Enrollment season is here which means you’re probably wondering, “How much should I put in my FSA?” or “How much should I contribute to my HSA?”
Budgeting for medical expenses in the future can be difficult; after all, you never know when you’ll have an emergency room visit or if you’ll need a new prescription next year. Also, if you have children in daycare or before/after school care, you need to plan for those costs as well.
Generally speaking, though, if you visit your doctor or dentist on a recurring basis, or if you have eye care needs, you can create an estimate for how much to set aside for next year. I’ve provided some information below to help you answer: How much should I put in my FSA? If you have an HSA and/or dependent care FSA, there is information for those accounts too.
In order to come up with a reasonable estimate, find your receipts or bills from this past year for medical, dental and vision expenses. These include doctor visits, ER visits, prescriptions, dental exams and procedures, and vision exams and eyewear expenses. Add these up for yourself and your dependents. This will give you an idea of how much to estimate for next year’s expenses.
One thing to keep in mind: you need to consider your company’s FSA plan setup. At the end of the plan year, your FSA dictates one of the following:
Why is this important? In 2019, if you contributed the maximum annual amount of $2,700, but only had $1,500 in expenses, then you would lose $1,200 with a “use it or lose it” policy, or $700 if your company allowed the $500 rollover. You cannot get that money back.
With an HSA, account holders have more freedom than with an FSA, because any unused funds rollover to the next year. So, if you can afford it, contribute the maximum amount since you will keep any unused dollars. This can really come in handy for future expenses.
However, if you need to be thriftier, plan for 2019 by adding up last year’s receipts for medical, dental, and vision expenses. Other costs to consider are your deductible amount and upcoming procedures (such as a having a baby or a knee replacement). Try to cover your deductible costs as those are out-of-pocket until your insurance kicks in.
Learn more about 2019 HSA contribution limits.
If you have a dependent care Flexible Spending Account (also known as DCAP), you need to know how much you spend monthly on child care. For children 13 years and younger (or an adult dependent who needs care), you need to add up:
You can contribute a maximum of $5,000 if you are married, and $2,500 if you are single. Remember, with a DCAP, it’s “use it or lose it,” so plan accordingly.
Planning for expenses can go a long way towards maximizing your tax-advantaged benefits for next year.