Uncle Sam Wants YOU…
To Have LASIK!
Does your employer offer a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA)? This employer-sponsored benefit allows you to set aside pre-tax wages to “pay yourself back” for medical expenses not covered by insurance. With potential savings of hundreds of dollars, an FSA or HSA reimbursement account is an economic way to pay for the cost of LASIK eye surgery!
How do these plans work?
An FSA or HSA is sometimes offered through your employer as a part of your benefits package. HSA accounts can also be owned by an individual who is self-employed. These plans allow you to set aside funds that are automatically withdrawn from your paycheck, before taxes, to pay for deductibles, co-pays, and medical expenses not covered by insurance, such as the cost of LASIK eye surgery. You can see significant savings in that the funds you elect to contribute to the account are completely tax-free saving money in three key ways:
- Contributions and withdrawals are not subject to federal income, state withholding taxes, or FICA
- Your annual taxable income is reduced
- You are reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses
If your employer offers this benefit, you will need to enroll in the plan and elect the amount you want to contribute to the account. Plans differ regarding the method of reimbursement. Some plans provide a debit card to be used to pay the expense up front. Some plans require you to incur the expense, then submit a form and receipt for reimbursement from the account. In this instance, you may take advantage of the 12-month interest-free CareCredit financing offered by Eye Care Specialists to pay for your procedure up front, submit for reimbursement, then pay the CareCredit balance when the funds are received.
What is the difference between an FSA and HSA?
Both accounts are tax-free. However, the main difference between a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) is indicated in the name of each plan.
Flexible Spending Account
- Deposits are tax-free
- Unused funds at the end of the plan year are forfeited
- Must be offered through your employer
- Full funds are available at the start of the plan year
An FSA is a spending account. With an FSA, you elect the pre-tax amount you would like to contribute for one year. This amount is withheld from your paycheck before taxes are withdrawn. You are expected to spend the amount of funds elected in that calendar year. In addition, the total funds are available at the first of that plan year. If you elect the $2550 maximum allowed by the IRS for a plan year, the total funds are available for use at the beginning of that plan year. You do not have to wait for the full $2550 to accrue before using the funds. However, what you do not spend by the end of the plan year is forfeited to the IRS. Click here for information regarding FSA limits, grace periods, carry-over amounts, and eligible expenses.
Health Savings Account
- Deposits are tax-free
- Unused funds carry over from year to year
- You are only eligible if you have a high deductible health plan
- Funds must accrue before expenditure reimbursement
- Can be employer-sponsored or owned by the individual
An HSA is a savings account, comparable to a 401K for medical expenses. HSA plans are medical savings accounts available if you have a high deductible health plan. Like an FSA, there are maximum contribution amounts allowable by the IRS. However, unlike an FSA, if they qualify, employees can start the account on their own. Also unlike FSAs, HSA funds roll over year to year if you do not use the full amount contributed. However, the funds must be accrued in the account before covering the medical expense.