Well, it is that time of year where we have to elect our benefits for 2010. I dread this time of year but then I thank the Lord that I have a job that allows me to choose my benefits as there are some who are not blessed to have those options. One of the options that my company offers is a Health Spending Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). We are given a VISA card and each year it is re-loaded with a pre-determined amount that I have authorized and will be taken from my check (pre-tax) each month.
I’m right now looking over all of our expenses from last year and forecasting what our health care costs will be for 2010.
What I like about this program is that I can forecast what our health costs will be for deductibles, prescriptions, Over the counter medications, emergency medical visits, vision and dental expenses. I then divide this by 12 ( I am paid monthly) and this is the amount that will be deducted from my paycheck each month. However, I do not have to wait for the money to be loaded on the card to use the card. My card is set with total amount that I will have withheld. This means that on January 1, 2010 my card will have $3250.00 for medical/vision/dental expenses,emergency medical, and prescriptions. .
This amount is BEFORE TAXES so I am not taxed on this $3250.00 – this saves me money and even if my wallet is a little low (always towards the end of the month) I have my card to use for these type of expenses.
If your company offers this service – JUMP at the chance to use the service. How I figured out how much we would need is this:
4 Dr. Visits Bear $60.00 (15.00 deductible each visit)
4 Dr. Visits Me $60.00
4 Dental Visits $1500.00 (We have some dental issues that need addressed this year and my Dr. gave me an estimate)
VISION – Eyeglases / Contacts – $575.00 (this may not be as much I just can’t get a good forecast of our VISION needs and this was our cost last year.)
Medication(Includes OTC) – $850.00 (I am looking into Wal-mart, CVS, and Walgreens to get this cost down after reading Carrie’s post @ Money Saving Methods – Bear has heart problems so I will not compromise on his meds but mine seem to be cheaper by not using my compay’s Mail order RX!)
Reserve (this could be more if our any of our other categories do not exceed what I have forecasted. – $205.00
I did this by going back over my last years receipts and then adding an additional 20% onto that for 2010. Now with my further knowledge of the drugstore game I will be able to make this last even longer!
One note that you need to be aware of on FSA accounts – you must have a ZERO balance by 12/31/2009 or you lose the money in the account! You have a certain amount of time into the new year to submit receipts if your plan does not give you a charge card but if you have a charge card and it is getting close to the end of the year then go purchase some OTC meds to zero the card out or you will lose the money in the account.
If your company offers this type of benefit, check it out and see if it would benefit your family as it has ours to sign up for it.