Does your employer offer a Flexible Spending Account (a.k.a. FSA) and did you know you can use those tax-exempt dollars to pay for LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures, like SMILE, and PRK? If you have been weighing your vision correction options, these are important questions. Recent legislation has given employers the flexibility to extend the deadline for spending 2021 FSA accounts, allowing employees to carry over all of the available funds through the end of 2022. This extension can make it possible to pay for a laser vision correction procedure (on average, around $4,400) using tax-free money!
What are Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)?
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are part of an employee’s benefits package, it is a savings account that allows you to set aside pretax money from your paycheck. Some employers match contributions into FSA accounts. (Pro Tip: Talk to HR or your company’s benefits manager to get more details). This allows account holders to use tax-free money to spend on qualified health and medical expenses, which include a range of goods and services from over-the-counter medications to procedures like LASIK for vision correction.
What Are the Limitations of An FSA?
- The pretax funds can only be spent on qualified health and medical expenses. The IRS has a list of what is currently eligible.
- There is a limit on how much can be set aside in an FSA account – the current contribution limit for 2021 was $2,750.
- Typically, the funds in an FSA must be used by the end of the year. Any remaining cash in the account on December 31st is forfeited (use it or lose it).
- Some benefit plans offer a grace period of a couple of months – this year the grace period ended March 15, 2022 – or the ability to carry over a portion of the funds, up to $570, to the next year.
What Is the FSA Rule Change for 2021?
Because options for spending FSA funds were limited because of the pandemic, the federal government passed legislation giving employers the opportunity to extend the 2021 FSA deadlines. What that means is, for participating employers, 2021 FSA account balances – the entire amount – can be carried over into 2022 with an extension to December 31, 2022.
How Does the 2021 FSA Rule Change Help Pay for LASIK?
The annual contribution limit for an FSA for 2022 is $2,850, which is less than the average cost of a laser vision correction procedure. However, the 2021 rule allows employees to roll over 2021 FSA account funds into 2022. By combining fully funded 2021 accounts with 2022 FSA contributions, it is possible to have more than $5,600 in pretax dollars available for eligible medical expenses like LASIK.
Five Steps to Use the 2021 FSA Rule Changes to Help Pay for LASIK:
- Contact your employer’s human resources office to find out if your company has opted for the flexible FSA deadlines for 2021-2022.
- Check your current FSA balance and contribution schedule to help calculate how much money you will have available in 2022.
- If you don’t have an eye doctor, now is the time to schedule an annual eye exam and have a conversation about whether laser vision correction is a good option for you.
- Just had an eye exam? Great! Consider scheduling an online doctor visit with a LASIK surgeon to talk about laser vision correction options and answer questions you may have about the procedure.
- Schedule a LASIK consultation – this is the best way to determine if you are a good candidate for the LASIK procedure as there are several diagnostic exams that take place to carefully measure your eyes and vision.
The 2021 FSA rule changes may be the best opportunity account holders have for making the most of the tax-exempt dollars available for laser vision correction. If an FSA is among your benefits, and you’ve been thinking about moving beyond glasses and contacts, there is no better time than now to find out if LASIK is right for you.