Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
Depending on your circumstances, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Monies you contribute to a Medical FSA can be used toward eligible medical/dental expenses. A Dependent Care FSA is used toward eligible daycare expenses you incur so you can work. Your contributions to an FSA are withheld from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis, which means you are not paying federal taxes on these monies.
Here’s how FSAs work:
Step 1: Estimate expenses for you and your family. FSA-eligible expenses include:
For help in estimating the cost of your medical services, try the Excellus Decision Support tool.
- Medical or dental expenses that are not covered by your insurance plan such as deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays
- Medical devices such as glasses, hearing aids, or orthopedic equipment
- Some over-the-counter items like Band-Aids and contact lens solutions. (If you’ve used a Medical FSA before, note that U.S. tax law no longer allows you to be reimbursed for non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines, such as pain relief products.)
Dependent Care FSA
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- Dependent care expenses for children under age 13 or other dependents that are physically or mentally disabled and incapable of caring for themselves.
- Expenses must be for dependent care that allows you to work, and include such things as child care at a center, a babysitter who is paying taxes on his or her income, and elder day care. (Living center or nursing home costs are not eligible for reimbursement.)
- If you are married and want to use a Dependent Care FSA, your spouse must work, be a full-time student or be mentally or physically incapable of providing care.
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Step 2: Enroll in an FSA account; tell us how much you’d like to set aside from each paycheck to cover these expenses. This money will not be included when your payroll taxes are calculated.
The annual maximum contributions are:
Step 3: Use your FSA Account. Use the money you have set aside tax free to pay for eligible medical/dental or dependent care services throughout the year.
- $2,550 for a Medical FSA
- $5,000 for a Dependent care FSA (maximum per household)
You can pay for eligible expenses using a specially issued debit card (the EBS One Card), which will withdraw money directly from your FSA to pay for services. Or, if you choose, simply pay for services and submit a claim for reimbursement (with receipts) by mail or on-line. If you use the EBS One Card to pay for eligible expenses, be sure to save your receipts; you may be asked to provide copies to EBS-RMSCO as evidence of proper use of the card.
Note: Medical and Dependent Care FSAs are two separate accounts. You cannot use funds in your Medical FSA to pay for dependent care expenses, and vice versa—nor can you transfer money from one fund to the other.
Use it or Lose it
Estimate expenses carefully. Although you will have until April 30 of the following year to submit claims for reimbursement, you must use the services, themselves, by December 31, of the plan year. According to IRS guidelines, you will forfeit any money not claimed.
The Fine Print
Flexible Spending Accounts are regulated by the IRS. For this reason, a number of important rules and restrictions apply.
- You must re-enroll in FSAs each year. FSAs are one of the only benefits that do not roll-over automatically.
- Once you have enrolled in an FSA, you cannot change the amount you elected to contribute unless you have a specific, FSA-related qualifying event, such as a change in the status of a dependent.
- You should not enroll in a Dependent Care FSA in expectation of a birth or adoption or similar event. You’ll have 30 days to enroll following a birth, adoption, or start of legal guardianship.
- Dependent care expenses will only be reimbursed from your dependent care FSA up to the amount currently in the account. If you terminate employment with Unity, your eligibility to participate in the FSA will end as of your termination date. You will have 90 days after that date to submit claims for reimbursement for claims incurred prior to your termination.
- Expenses paid through FSAs cannot be claimed as deductions on your income tax return.