Help me spend my LIMITED PURPOSE FSA
March 5, 2013 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I am new to the world of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts and I think I've enrolled in an FSA that I won't use.

Okay, so I've enrolled in a Limited Purpose FSA for 2013. I am contributing the max of $2500/year. Stupidly, I've only just realized today that it is LIMITED PURPOSE and is only to be used for vision and dental expenses as well a preventative care. I had an eye test about 3 years ago and my vision is perfect so I don't need glasses/contacts or Lasik (but I will go and get another eye test anyway, though my vision is still very good). I go to the dentist regularly, but my teeth are pretty healthy so I don't need any dental work that I know of and in any case, I have dental insurance which I think probably covers regular visits. I could get my wisdom teeth pulled (my dentist gave me a referral), but it would be more out of annoyance than necessity (I haven't had them pulled because I was always told I didn't need them pulled) and I'm not sure I want to have major surgery for something that's not necessary.

Which leaves me with preventative stuff. Could you please give me some ideas on preventative care I could get to use up my money? I am going to go to a dermatologist to get a full body mole check. I'll ask my doctor about a mammogram. Any other diagnostic tests or screenings that an otherwise healthy person could get? I got a bunch of blood work (the basics) done last year and they were all fine. I called my FSA provider and they really couldn't give me other ideas other than to stress the services must be preventative in nature. Immunizations are eligible but I think I'm up to date on most of them anyway (including the flu shot). Even if I weren't I'm thinking my regular health insurance would probably cover it.

I am really aggravated as I'm enrolled in this and can't unenroll for 2013. And if I don't use it, I lose it. Because it's limited purpose, I can't use it for normal FSA things like medical supplies or acupuncture, though I can claim mileage on for visits to the doc for my preventative care.

Please help me brainstorm ways I can use up this money by year end. What are some preventative/diagnostic tests/services/screenings I can get? I am in my 30s and in otherwise good health. I have mild asthma. I have no dependants.
posted by young sister beacon to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: For those interested, here is the actual wording on my plan:

Examples of eligible dental and vision expenses:
Dental Visits/Treatment
Lasik Surgery
Dental Co Insurance/Co-pay/Deductible Eye Exams
Contact Lenses
Vision Correction Procedures

Other items such as denture-care products, contact-lens-cleaning products, soaking solutions, mileage, and prenatal and well-child check-ups are also eligible.

Examples of eligible preventive care expenses:
Tobacco Cessation Programs
Screening Services
Obesity Weight Loss Programs
Prescription drugs taken to prevent the onset of a condition for which a person has developed risk factors
Cholesterol lowering drugs
Health exams
posted by young sister beacon at 2:01 PM on March 5, 2013

The husband used up ours last year getting a mouth guard from the dentist to prevent him from grinding his teeth in his sleep. It also stopped his snoring and he seems to breath and sleep better with it.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:09 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Since you have asthma, you may want to get tested for allergies.

It is hypothetically possible to get a prescription for eyeglasses, choose very expensive designer frames that are in high demand, pop out the lenses and resell the frames. This is fraud so of course one would never do this.
posted by payoto at 2:13 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Could you buy sunglasses? Whiten your teeth?

Seconding allergy screening and mouthguard ideas.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2013

Get your eye exam and a pair (or two) of swank, but excellent, sunglasses. Same for your SO, if you have one.
Otherwise, if it's just for you, keep careful track of your expenses in this area, and don't go to the max. The only reason I max out mine every year is because my husband has crap teeth, and usually needs a crown or somesuch every year.
posted by dbmcd at 2:17 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: I bet you're out of date on a bunch of your immunizations, even if you think you aren't. You could get the rabies pre-exposure vaccine, that'll eat up the money in a hurry and save you a big pain if you ever do get bitten. The anti-HPV vaccine is never a bad idea, either. If you travel, you could get your travel vaccinations done too. Most adults don't have their Hepatitis A vaccines.

You can also do a health baseline, get your cholesterol, thyroid, stress test, etc tested so that you have those numbers in case something does go wrong later.
posted by zug at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2013

Look into the Obesity/Weight Loss guidelines and see if this can be interpreted as a gym membership. Probably not, but check out what it might involve.

Maybe some of those new full-body scans or the genetic mapping things that seem to be popular lately?
posted by CathyG at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sunglasses are a good one.
If you have asthma, I bet you can use a new spacer. I don't know one adult that actually uses a spacer with their inhaler but you should! If needed, you could also get a nebulizer or peak flow meter.

Blood pressure monitor.
Copies of your medical records. (good to do and depending on your medical history, can cost money)

Sunscreen SPF 30 or higher (I think)

Acupuncture is what I spend my FSA dollars on, but I don't know what limits there are for your kind of plan.
posted by dottiechang at 3:04 PM on March 5, 2013

Another vote for sunglasses, I bought an expensive pair a few years ago when I had some money left over in my FSA. Also, if you are into swimming or snow skiing, you might be able to get some fancy goggles.
posted by alienzero at 3:42 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Dentist: fluoride treatment/varnish? Was optional but recommended for me, but costs extra.
posted by NikitaNikita at 3:49 PM on March 5, 2013

Buy Sunglasses (indie shops will be more likely to do this). Get a prescription for massage. Acupuncture. Get a gym membership (with a prescription!) for an "obesity" thing. Go to therapy.
posted by bensherman at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Have you gotten your HPV vaccine? Insurance doesn't usually cover it for women over 26, so if you're over 26 you could burn a few hundred bucks that way. May not be a great value, but worth considering.
posted by phoenixy at 5:24 PM on March 5, 2013

I've never heard of an FSA that didn't also allow for medical expenses that were non preventative, like prescriptions fur antibiotics or sick visit copays, so if that comes up, double check.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2013

Just FYI "full body scans" are not legitimate preventative services.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2013

I wonder if you could find an eligible obesity weight loss program that was basically a gym membership or an enrollment in some kind of meal service.
posted by gubenuj at 7:12 PM on March 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far. A few things:

- I have a mouth guard, I've used one for a few years and got a new one last year because my dog ate my old one

- gym memberships and meal plans are explicitly not covered, unfortunately, and neither is teeth whitening or any other kind of cosmetic surgery

- I got a bunch of vaccines about 3 or so years ago in preparation for a trip to Egypt (so whatever the recommended ones are for Egypt). I think most of them are still okay but I might be due for a booster or two so will definitely look into that. HPV is also a good idea.

- Sunglasses are a good idea but I assume they would have to be prescription and I'm not sure how realistic that is if I have perfect vision. I will also check on sunscreen.

- The allergies testing is a great idea and I would love if I could get a few more asthma supplies like a nebulizer and a spacer. I'm worried that they won't be covered though as the provider would consider it "treatment" and not "preventative"? I also don't know how much this has to do (if anything) with how my doctor classifies it. Anyone know how providers determine these things?

I'm going to ask my doctor is a bone density scan would qualify as I've used depo-provera for a number of years.

I am also trying to see if I can use it to buy medical supplies that I can donate to low-cost medical clinics or something similar but I am not optimistic.

Can anyone tell me if I were to go and buy, say, a blood pressure monitor or something, do I have to submit documentation from my doctor saying it's specifically a preventative thing? Or can I just buy preventative medical supplies and they'll take my word for it? This whole thing is just so weird to me.
posted by young sister beacon at 8:18 PM on March 5, 2013

i think most plans have some sort of option to re-choose what you want if you have a qualifying event. for example, having a baby or getting married. you should check.

let's say you pay in regular installments, and that at this point you could only recover 10/12th of you $2500. that would be about $2080. realistically, you'd probably be able to at least use the money you've contributed.

if you can re-select if you get married then try that. find someone willing to nominally "marry" you then get divorced. pay a lawyer to write up some boiler plate prenuptial agreement. get legally married, un-enroll from the plan, then get divorced. then take you ex husband/wife out to dinner. the prenuptial agreement is so that you can both have no obligation to each other after you divorce. maybe the lawyer would cost $500, paying your friend $100, and a days worth of time running around to sign forms. it still seems like you'd come out ahead in the end.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Could OTC medical products possibly count for preventative items? If they do, stock up on bandaids and advil and whatever other first aid things you might need around the house or in your car or camping supplies.

I'd also look into a really nice air purifier or humidifier since you have asthma.
posted by youngergirl44 at 6:42 AM on March 6, 2013

Is it possible to move the account into a regular FSA or HSA?

You can also stop making contributions at any time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:38 AM on March 6, 2013

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