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Healthcare flex spending accounts - Are they worth it?

Posted by Jennifer Kardell

Health Savings Accounts2Let's face it we all have faced some sort of medical emergency in our life. If you are fortunate enough to not have had a medical emergency arise yet, the question of how will you pay for it may not be far from your mind. Of course, you may have insurance but, it may only cover part of your bill. Or maybe none of it at all. Trips to the doctor's office or emergency room aren't cheap and I don't know about you but I don't have thousands and thousands of dollars sitting around to pay for what insurance doesn't cover. Being the "plan-for-what-may-lie-ahead" type, I have pondered the idea of a Flex Spending Account and if it's worth it. I'm a pretty healthy person and don't visit the doctor often, however, the thought is not far from my mind that if a situation were to arise where I am faced with a bill of what my insurance may not cover - how will I pay for it? Should I consider a flex spending account?

What is a flex spending account?

Flex spending accounts (FSA) are tax-advantaged accounts that are set up through a plan by ones employer. Think of them as a medical savings account, if you will. These accounts allow employees to set aside a portion of their paychecks to be put medical expenses, dependent care or other related expenses. However, if the funds are not used by the end of the plan year, the funds are lost - "use it or lose it".

Pros to having a FSA?

If you visit a doctor regularly, bills can pile up. You can use your FSA account to help pay for medical expenses instead of paying them "out-of-pocket". Or if you have a medical emergency and are faced with a rather large doctor bill post-insurance coverage your FSA can help bring down the debt that has suddenly fell into your lap. FSA's can really help you out in a bind and you can choose the amount each month you want deposited in the account. Not to mention this is tax-advantaged money.

Cons to having an FSA?

If you are healthy and rarely visit the doctor, but are setting aside the money for an emergency - you have a right way of thinking. However, if the money you have set aside is not used before the end of the plan year, you will lose those funds. Is it worth the risk to potentially lose hundreds of dollars?

Sound Off!

Let us know: Do you have a flex spending account? Are you for them? Against them? Share your FSA experience and thoughts with us!

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