If you've got money left
over from your employer's healthcare flexible spending account (FSA), no doubt you're
sensitive to the come-ons from eyewear vendors, LASIK providers, dentists, hearing-aid vendors, and
others eager to tap into your last dollars in the till. This is the time to spend all you've allocated for 2009, 'cos generally you lose what's
left in that account after December 31.
If you haven't got much left
or can't think of how to spend it, consider that funds from many FSA's can be used for over-the-counter medications, first-aid supplies, and everyday products such as diaper rash ointment and saline solution for contact lenses. If you're not sure what's covered, check with your employer's human rescources department.
Check also with your local pharmacy. For example, CVS and Rite Aid have comprehensive lists of what's considered FSA-eligible on their Web sites. The lists are meant for folks who shop online, but they most certainly would apply to items bought in the store.
This may indeed be the last year it'll be so easy to use your FSA for such over-the-counter purchases. The healthcare reform bill now before the Senate, H.R. 3590, includes a provision to eliminate purchase of OTC items; a recently-introduced amendment would allow for purchase of OTC meds, but only with a doctor's note. The bill also would limit employees' pre-tax contributions to those accounts to $2,500 a year.—Tobie Stanger