Despite how important healthcare is to nearly every American, a significant portion of us aren’t capitalizing on our insurance benefits. We have a lot of dental patients in the Bedford area with health savings and flexible spending accounts that leave their benefits unused at the end of the year, which often means they lose them.
Most Americans spend less than 30 minutes per year reviewing their dental and health plans when they select them during open enrollment (that would be now) or learning how those plans work.
A 2015 AFLAC Open Enrollment Survey showed several activities more appealing to consumers than researching insurance benefits:
- 38% would rather spend the time cleaning out their email inbox
- 23% would rather clean their toilet
- 18% would rather do their taxes
With numbers like that, I’m not surprised that many patients don’t realize that they can use their health savings or flexible spending accounts for dental work.
Understanding your HSA or FSA benefits
Knowing how your benefits work is a prerequisite to using them. If you already have a health savings or flexible spending account, or if you are considering one during open enrollment, you’ll need to understand how your plan works.
Here is a quick breakdown of the main differences between HSA’s and FSA’s:
Health Savings Accounts in 2017
Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) allow you to transfer funds into long-term medical savings as part of your health plan. These are great for regular expenses such as deductibles, copays, and medications.
- Use in conjunction with a high-deductible health plan.
- Covers most dental work.
- Contributions are capped at $3,400 annually for individuals or $6,750 for families.
- Change your contribution at any time
- Your unused balances roll over, like a 401k.
- Often (but not always) established independent of employment.
- Contributions and growth are tax free.
- Funds withdrawn for medical expenses are not taxed.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA’s) let you put money away for health-related expenses that aren’t covered by your regular health or dental plan. Here’s what you need to know about Flexible Spending Accounts:
- Can still be used for regular out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, copays, and medication.
- 2017 contributions capped at $2,600 for individuals and $5,000 for families.
- Contributions can only be modified during open enrollment or qualifying changes in life status (marriage, children, jobs, etc).
- Use it or lose it. Unused balances will be lost.
- Established as part of a cafeteria plan with employers.
- Contributions can be made pre-tax, and then expenses are tax deductible.
Use your HSA or FSA benefits for dental care
Whether you’re considering Invisalign, sealants, or you’re just overdue for a cleaning, the end of the year is in sight, so make sure to schedule your appointment with our Bedford dental practice before you run out of time!
And if you have questions about how best to maximize your HSA or FSA benefits, or what’s covered and what’s not, stop by our Bedford practice and we’ll be more than happy to help answer your questions!
~Dr. Marea White