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Time to Check Your Health Care FSA Balance

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Usually this is the time of year those with a health care flexible spending account (FSA) rush to the doctor’s office or pharmacy to spend the last of their remaining funds. After all, FSAs are “Use it or Lose it” accounts. But, thanks to COVID-related legislation, you may have more time to spend your health care FSA.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress gives employers the option to allow employees to carry over the full amount of their unused health care FSA funds to 2022. This means if you have an FSA, there’s a good chance you don’t have to make a last-minute dash to spend your used funds by December 31. Take action by checking your FSA account balance, then ask your employer if they opted into the FSA carryover.

If your employer chose not to offer the carryover and you still have funds remaining in your account, don’t worry. There are a ton of ways you can spend your balance. In addition to deductible and copay amounts, you can use your funds to pay for a variety of medical supplies and products, such as first-aid kits, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, sunscreen and more. Check out FSAstore.com for more ideas.

Keep Your Healthy Habits Going

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Life is constantly changing and that can make it hard to keep up with healthy habits. It’s easy to find comfort in junk food and hours on the sofa binge-watching your favorite shows. Although this may feel good in the moment, these choices can be detrimental to your health. This is where a wellness program can help you stay motivated to exercise, eat well and reduce stress.

Many wellness programs reward you for taking healthy actions, such as:

  • Keeping better track of your own health metrics, like blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Setting short- and long-term goals
  • Delving into the benefits of meditation, quality sleep, and online therapy apps
  • Exploring physical activities like online yoga classes
  • Participating in online exercise challenges

If your company doesn’t offer a wellness program, keep in mind that regular, simple actions over time can produce big results, even during a worldwide pandemic.

The Ins and Outs of Health Savings Accounts

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Many people can open a health savings account (HSA) through a work medical plan that’s also a high deductible health plan. However, employees often confuse the HSA with a health care flexible spending account (FSA) and are unsure of how to use their account. Here are a few HSA pointers.

  1. Save, save, save. An HSA is a SAVINGS account as its name makes plain. Employees should try to contribute the most pre-tax dollars they can (up to the annual limit) to their HSA. Since high deductible medical plans usually have lower premiums, employees can put the money they save into their HSA. The tax advantages of an HSA vary by state, but dollars put into an HSA can help employees lower their taxable income.
  2. Invest a portion of the funds. HSAs give employees an opportunity to invest in mutual funds. This is a great way to build a nest egg for health care expenses in the future. Just remember investing comes with risk. Always speak with a financial advisor before investing.
  3. If you also have an HSA-compatible health care FSA (this FSA is different from a standard health care FSA — see below), don’t spend HSA funds on health care expenses unless necessary. Instead, use your FSA and keep the money in your HSA so it continues to grow.
  4. Don’t contribute to an HSA if:
  • You are claimed as a dependent on some’s tax return.
  • You are enrolled in Medicare.
  • Have non-high deductible health care coverage, such as a standard health care FSA or an HMO plan without a high deductible. This applies to you even if your non-deductible health care coverage is through a spouse or domestic partner.

Learn more about HSA contribution rules at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p969.pdf.

Employees Are Looking for More Benefits

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As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all realizing like never before the importance of taking care of our health. According to a 2021 Aflac report, nearly half of all U.S. employees signed up for new benefits at work. Most of those were life insurance, but also very popular were critical illness, hospital indemnity, telemedicine and mental health resources. This is evidence that we all want to feel more protected.

Even after the pandemic ends, the desire for greater protection is here to stay. That’s why now is a good time to revisit the benefits available to your employees. We can help you create a more competitive benefits package — at the right price — to keep current employees happy and attract new ones.