Don’t Delay on Using Your Flex Dollars!
Some “benefits” exist in the hope that you either forget about them or grow complacent. When it comes to many Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), having that tax-free money to spend on your health care is a fantastic benefit for our patients! However, any unused funds will disappear once the plan year is up in many cases.
Your hard-earned money and your foot and ankle care are very important. Neither should be wasted when there are opportunities to make real differences in your comfort and health.
At Northwood Foot and Ankle Center, we take all steps possible to work with our patients’ insurers and plans, so they can receive the most benefits to their feet and their wallets.
A yearly update to your customized footwear
If you have custom orthotics or diabetic shoes—or need them for the first time—then your Flexible Spending Account should not be wasted if at all possible.
Custom orthotic inserts are a wise investment not only when they are first prescribed, but year-to-year as well. While they are built to last significantly longer than the more generic inserts you can find at a store, they can still benefit from regular maintenance and refurbishment. This is especially true if you have a job or lifestyle that frequently keeps you up and moving.
The case is very similar for diabetic shoes. In several ways, it can be even more important that your shoes are kept refurbished and steadily replaced. Diabetic shoes are made not only to provide support, but to protect your feet from irritations and injuries that can develop into serious diabetic wounds. Flaws and deteriorations in your shoes can place that protective factor at risk.
Even if you have a relatively new pair of custom orthotics or diabetic shoes that are not currently in need of updates or replacement, it is still worth considering whether you would benefit from owning a second pair. Having footwear reserved especially for work or working out can make daily life more convenient. It can also extend the overall life of every pair of inserts or shoes that you own.
Are other items covered by my FSA?
Orthotics and shoes are certainly not the only relevant items that can be covered as a Flexible Savings Account expense. Other types of equipment also fall under a standard plan.
Bandages, gauze, first aid kits, and other supplies related to diabetic foot care are often eligible, as can be equipment for other regular care. However, do not expect to be able to deplete your entire account solely on these items. Only an amount determined to be reasonably used within a plan year will be acceptable for coverage. Stockpiling of items for use longer than that is often not permitted within the plan.
What if the plan year is already up?
In some plans, patients may have the option to roll over a certain amount of their funds to the next plan year, or they might have a grace period with which to spend their remaining funds after the plan year is over. No plan contains both options, and some plans will contain neither.
It is also worth noting that most plans accept the date of treatment and not the date of billing. If you happen to be billed shortly after your plan year for treatment or equipment during that year, it can still be submitted as a claim within the “run-out period” of the plan. This is the set number of days after a plan year ends that claims are still eligible to be made. It is essential information to have.
Plan ahead for coming years
Determining how much you want to allocate into a Flexible Savings Account can be challenging. You don’t want to lose the money you have set aside each year, but you also want to ensure you get the most financial benefit possible.
You never really know all you might need for your health expenses each year. There is always the chance that an unexpected need may arise. However, if you have expected needs such as orthotics, shoes, or other items each year, it can be easier to determine a base figure with which to work.
We can help you determine where your foot and ankle needs may place you in terms of potential expenses coverable by your FSA. Not only is it a step forward in financial planning, it sets up a general roadmap for your foot care and potential appointments in the future.
Right now, however, time is of the essence for many FSA plans! Don’t sit on disappearing funds. Give us a call at (616) 393-8886 to schedule an appointment with us in our Holland office or at (269) 429-7670 for our St. Joseph office.
Remember that items prescribed before the end of your plan year are still often coverable. We will do all we can to get you in beneath your deadline.