Take advantage of annual FSA funds before they expire. Learn how and why to use FSA for LASIK.
The new year is nearly here. Patients with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) may be wondering how to take advantage of the benefits their account offers.
LASIK (laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) provides an enticing option for those with funds left to spend during the last month of the year. Using a fsa for LASIK gives patients a flexible, tax-free way to fund their LASIK surgery, allowing them to enjoy clearer, crisper vision to begin the new year.
A Flexible Savings Account (FSA) is a special account that allows patients to set aside part of their paycheck to pay for medical expenses.
Patients can decide on a set amount to put into this employer-funded account, and use it tax free for certain out of pocket medical expenses. As of 2023, patients can put up to $3,050 in their account.
Typically patients must use their annual contributions within the same calendar year. This means that if a patient contributes the full $3,050 amount in 2023, they would have until December 31, 2023 to use their funds.
There are a number of distinct advantages that FSAs offer patients. To begin, FSA funds are tax free. The dollar amount deducted each month comes before taxes are taken out. Assuming the patient is using funds on expenses they would have paid for anyway, they are saving money by using tax-free funds.
Another advantage of an FSA is that it is an employer-sponsored account. This means a patient’s employer can match or contribute some of the funds in the account—so the patient is not covering all the funds themselves.
FSA funds can also be used for a wide range of medical expenses, including prescription drugs, doctor visits, and the cost of eye care procedures.
While FSAs offer a convenient way for patients to fund medical expenses, there are a number of drawbacks to be aware of:
FSA funds must be used by the end of the calendar year. Unlike HSA accounts, funds do not roll over to the next year. Some employers offer up to a two-and-a-half-month grace period, but they are not obliged to. In other words, if a patient doesn’t use their funds by year's end, they are gone.
Maximum annual contributions are currently $3,050. Patients and their employers cannot put more than that amount in the account. While this is a significant sum, it may not be enough to cover all out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Patients can use FSA funds for out-of-pocket medical bills that are deemed “qualified medical expenses.”
The term “qualified medical expenses” refers to any costs incurred in the prevention or treatment of injury or disease. Some qualified expenses patients can use FSA funds for include:
The International Revenue Service considers eye surgery to correct vision an approved medical expense. This means patients can use FSA funds for a variety of ocular procedures including LASIK.
LASIK is an eye surgery used to correct refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The procedure improves vision by using a laser to reshape the cornea and fix irregularities on the eye’s surface.
Following a successful LASIK surgery, patients will enjoy better eyesight and freedom from glasses and contacts.
LASIK is currently the most popular refractive surgery. It has an impressive success rate with 90% of patients experiencing 20/20 vision following the procedure, and over 99% of patients enjoying 20/40 vision or better.
It’s a non-invasive procedure with most patients reporting minimal side effects and clear vision quickly after surgery. For patients who want crisper vision, and freedom from glasses and contacts, LASIK is a great choice.
This is especially true for those with unused FSA funds. These funds do not carry over into the next calendar year, so if patients are looking for a way to use them, LASIK could be a worthwhile option.
If a patient is considering using FSA for LASIK, they should keep the total cost of the procedure in mind. Patients can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000 per eye, or $3,000 to $6,000 for both eyes.
In most cases the maximum $3,050 FSA contribution will not be enough to cover the total cost of surgery for both eyes.
Nonetheless, FSA funds can significantly reduce the out of pocket cost for LASIK surgery. If their company offers a grace period, patients may also be able to split the cost between two calendar years.
Use of FSA funds will vary depending on the patient's employer. In some cases the patient will get LASIK surgery first, then submit a receipt for reimbursement.
In other cases companies may give their employees a debit or prepaid card which they can use to directly pay for qualifying medical procedures—including LASIK. In this instance, a patient could use the card to pay for part of their surgery at the clinic.
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