FAQ: Can Flex Spending Save Me Money?

Flex spending might be one of the best benefits that many employees receive, yet they don’t know about the savings! If you have flex spending benefits, or aren’t sure if they are available to you, talk to your employer. You may be missing out on savings that could be going toward your family’s health.

Q: Do I qualify for flex spending benefits?
A: Flex spending may be offered by your employer. Talk to someone at your workplace who is in charge of benefits to learn more.

Q: What is flex spending good for?
A: Flex spending covers lots of services and products related to your health. You have to check with your employer about your specific benefits, but most flex spending plans will allow flex dollars to be spent on various types of vision care, glasses (including readers, prescription sunglasses, and prescription eyewear), contacts and contact lens supplies, many kinds of over-the-counter items as well as prescription medications, other kinds of medical equipment and health aids, and more. You may even be able to use flex dollars towards counseling, programs to help you stop smoking, and training or classes to help you and your doctor improve your health.

Q: How does flex spending work?
A: An amount of money comes out of each paycheck and is deposited into your flex spending account. These funds are saved, usually for a specified amount of time (generally a calendar year), until you spend them on an approved purchase.

Q: How does this save me money?
A: The catch is that the money comes out of your earnings before taxes are taken out. It may not seem like much, but these savings really add up! If you are putting $50 per paycheck into your flex spending account and are usually taxed about 25% for income tax, you’re saving $300 per year that you otherwise would have paid in taxes. Sure, you are limited to spending this money on healthcare, but if you normally pay co-pays, buy at least one new pair of glasses, medication, allergy or other over-the-counter drugs, pay co-insurance, or any other purchase eligible for flex spending, you could be saving money toward those purchases.

Q: How much can I save up?
A: Most of these accounts allow you to save up to $2,550 for flex spending purposes. This means you potentially have $2,550 that you can divert from your income to this account and save whatever you would have paid in income tax.

Q: Do they roll over?
A: No. This is the biggest detail that you need to know! Flex spending dollars do not roll over to the following year. You have to use them or else they are erased.

Speak to one of our eye care professionals today to learn more about how to use flex spending on necessary eye care.

Health Insurance vs. Vision Insurance

Insurance benefits and healthcare coverage can be very confusing. The language isn’t always clear, and sometimes you need to speak with a benefits specialist or human resources representative through your employer just to navigate what is covered and what isn’t. In general, there are a few things you should know about vision benefits vs. health insurance and how they may help cover your eye care needs.

There are many options for vision insurance providers including EyeMed, Humana, VSP and more. Of course they all have their own specific coverage benefits and amounts, but in general they cover routine care like getting an annual exam and getting glasses or contact lenses. They will pay all or part of the cost of your exam and eyewear and give you a timeline of how often you are allowed to get a covered exam or eyewear allowance. You are certainly allowed to order additional contact lenses or glasses, or to get exams more frequently, but the insurance provider will only cover a predetermined amount based on their annual or bi-annual timeline. Usually covered individuals pay a co-pay or a percentage of the cost of an exam and any associated eyewear.

The difference between this and health insurance is that health insurance generally covers only eye care in relation to a medical condition. For instance, if you need an eye exam because of cataracts, dry eyes, complications from diabetes, or in relation to diagnosed high blood pressure, then your health insurance will usually cover the eye care. You don’t need vision insurance for this coverage, but you may be able to use your health insurance to cover your medical eye condition or eye care needs and then use your vision insurance to cover your glasses or contact lenses.

In addition to covering eye care for medical conditions, health insurance will typically cover care if you experience an eye injury or develop an eye disease.

The benefits of having optional vision insurance are that you can save a lot on eye care, and the plans are usually pretty inexpensive—typically just $12–$30 per month. Even if your employer doesn’t help cover part of your premium, many people like to buy the coverage to use for annual exams and new eyewear at a greatly reduced cost. Also, if you find that you’re not visiting your eye doctor regularly, paying for coverage is a nice way to make yourself accountable and schedule your visit to use your vision benefits.

Talk to your employer if you have questions about any employer-provided health care coverage or vision benefits. See an eye care professional to find out if your vision benefits are accepted, and how you can use benefits to save on your next eye exam or eyewear purchase.

Health Insurance vs. Vision Insurance

Insurance benefits and healthcare coverage can be very confusing. The language isn’t always clear, and sometimes you need to speak with a benefits specialist or human resources representative through your employer just to navigate what is covered and what isn’t. In general, there are a few things you should know about vision insurance vs. health insurance and how they may help cover your eye care needs.

There are many options for vision insurance providers including EyeMed, Humana, VSP and more. Of course they all have their own specific coverage benefits and amounts, but in general they cover routine care like getting an annual exam and getting glasses or contact lenses. They will pay all or part of the cost of your exam and eyewear and give you a timeline of how often you are allowed to get a covered exam or eyewear allowance. You are certainly allowed to order additional contact lenses or glasses, or to get exams more frequently, but the insurance provider will only cover a predetermined amount based on their annual or bi-annual timeline. Usually covered individuals pay a co-pay or a percentage of the cost of an exam and any associated eyewear.

The difference between this and health insurance is that health insurance generally covers only eye care in relation to a medical condition. For instance, if you need an eye exam because of cataracts, dry eyes, complications from diabetes, or in relation to diagnosed high blood pressure, then your health insurance will usually cover the eye care. You don’t need vision insurance for this coverage, but you may be able to use your health insurance to cover your medical eye condition or eye care needs and then use your vision insurance to cover your glasses or contact lenses.

In addition to covering eye care for medical conditions, health insurance will typically cover care if you experience an eye injury or develop an eye disease.

The benefits of having optional vision insurance are that you can save a lot on eye care, and the plans are usually pretty inexpensive—typically just $12–$30 per month. Even if your employer doesn’t help cover part of your premium, many people like to buy the coverage to use for annual exams and new eyewear at a greatly reduced cost. Also, if you find that you’re not visiting your eye doctor regularly, paying for coverage is a nice way to make yourself accountable and schedule your visit to use your vision benefits.

Talk to your employer if you have questions about any employer-provided health care coverage or vision benefits. See an eye care professional to find out if your vision benefits are accepted, and how you can use benefits to save on your next eye exam or eyewear purchase.

Take Advantage of Savings and Flexibility

Navigating healthcare benefits and wellness perks can be tricky. Often the details are quite specific and involve websites or pamphlets than need to be studied to know what’s available to you. Flex Spending is one area that is often asked about, but under-utilized. It’s a great of an opportunity to save on necessary healthcare services and items.

Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) are a popular feature with many healthcare plans. How an FSA works is that money from each paycheck gets deposited automatically into your flex account. This money is then saved for you and you are able to use it to pay for healthcare expenses not covered by your medical plan. You pick what amount of money you want diverted into the account, and the advantage is that the funds you add to this account come out of your paycheck tax-free.

Your FSA can help pay for necessary eye care. Use flex spending money for prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses. FSAs can cover things like routine eye exams, co-payments, deductibles, and more.

Employers often encourage employees to take advantage of these accounts because of the tax savings, and because it promotes thoughtful spending on health and wellness products and services to improve your quality of life. The downside? These accounts are on a “use it or lose it” basis and don’t usually roll over after a year. Don’t wait until the last minute to take advantage of flex spending!

So how do you take advantage of your FSA? First, read any literature you may have from your employer regarding the terms of flex spending, guidelines and suggestions for how to use it. Make sure you know how much you are putting into your account and consider price-checking to see what you will spend during the year so that you know how much to divert into the FSA each month. Once you know how to use your flex spending, make an appointment to see your eye care professional and get a yearly exam and eyewear. You may also want to discuss pricing with the provider so that you know what to expect for payment. Once you’ve had your exam and received your eyewear, keep your receipts and any necessary paperwork either to submit for coverage or to have for your records.

Some other things to know: there are accounts similar to FSAs that are a little different. Health Savings Accounts for example are similar to an FSA in that you divert tax-free money from your paycheck into the account and use it on healthcare purchases, but these funds are not lost year-to-year. HSA funds accrue over time. They apply to the same sorts of purchases included prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses and contact lenses, so check to see what options are available to you.

Speak to an eye care professional today to learn more about how to use flex spending on necessary eye care.