The California Department of Insurance reminds consumers to use their 2012 Flexible Spending Account benefits before they expire on Dec. 31. Commonly known as FSAs or Cafeteria Plans, these accounts often allow for pre-tax contributions to be used for medical expenses, and some plans also allow coverage of day care expenses. CDI urges consumers to review their benefits and maximize them at the end of the year to ensure the most return on those dollars set aside for health care-related expenses. The following points can assist consumers in maximizing their benefits:
- Check your total deductibles you have paid to date in 2012. If your deductible has been met, and you were planning to schedule medical services in the next few months, you should consider scheduling those services before the end of the year.
- Dental needs also can be addressed, including annual cleanings or minor dental work such as the replacement of filings.
- You may want to refill needed prescription medicines with those end-of-year funds in the account.
- Vision plans often include a free pair of eye glasses or contacts annually.
It is estimated that consumers with these types of accounts generally surrender $120 per year when they leave these funds in an expired account. According to the Internal Revenue Service, consumers have approximately a two-and-a-half-month grace period to use these funds. That means by mid-March, if they go unused, they are forfeited. In addition, some of the rules related to FSAs have changed. For more information on these changes please visit the FSA store at www.fsastore.com. Consumers also can contact the California Department of Insurance at (800) 927-HELP for information or to get assistance regarding their health plans and insurance policies.