One of the tools that have been created to help people with their health care needs is the flexible savings account or FSA. This is a savings plan that is taken from your payroll check pretax and that you can use for your medical needs.

When using your flexible savings account there are some pretty strict rules and guidelines. I will give you an overview in this article but for more detailed information talk to your employer.

Here are some FSA guidelines to be aware of:

1. All employees need to know just what expenses are covered as well as how to go about getting reimbursed for those expenses. Talking to the HR department at your company is the best, most accurate, and easiest way to know exactly what is covered and what you need to do to be reimbursed for covered expenses.

2. While the FSA does not specify the maximum contribution an employee can make, many employers do limit the amount of contribution.

The main reason for this is that this fund is prefunded so if you leave your job for any reason during the year, your employer will be on the hook.

Also, consider what you should use to fund your account very carefully, once the money is in you have to use it for qualified medical expenses or you will lose your money.

It is important that you carefully consider what your potential medical expense needs will be for a year. Talking to your HR department or a qualified person will help you determine the best amount for you to contribute.

2. You will need to know just who in your family will be covered under the FSA. According to the FSA rules, all children in the household under the age of 13 as well as a spouse who is unable to care for themselves will be covered.

3. These accounts are not intended to replace insurance but rather to help fill in some gaps that your insurance does not cover.

FSA will cover things like doctor visit co-pays, deductibles, and prescription costs. What is not covered is plastic surgery.

Often, things like drug and alcohol treatment that is not covered under your health insurance plan will be covered with your FSA.

FSA’s cannot be used to pay your health insurance premiums either. Again, it is vital that you talk to your HR department to get a complete and up to date listing of covered expenses.

Due to the enactment of the health care plan in 2010, there are some rule changes for FSA’s that will be occurring over the next few years.

Only you can decide what type of health insurance coverage you need. For single people, the needs are quite different from those of a family of four. If your employer offers an FSA program, talk to them to find out all the specifics, so you can make an informed decision.

A flexible savings account may be a good fit for you, find out for sure before you open one though.

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