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Finances & Money

Use Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)? Keep Your Receipts!

A few months ago, I told you that you can use FSA dollars on your account even if you haven’t contributed that money yet. Well, when I wrote the article, I was closing in on a new job offer, which I eventually received and accepted.

Back in 2008, I elected $900 for 2009, but I didn’t know at the time I would be getting a new job, much less looking for one. When I found myself with about $600 still sitting in the account and $hundreds in medical bills coming in, I opted to use it up.

Always save your receipts…

because your FSA provider can always demand written proof or else require repayment of the expense…out of YOUR pocket. Health insurance becomes much less reasonable if you don’t keep a good accounting of your expenses. We had hundreds in bills from medical tests for Stacie, needles in my back, and new eyeglasses for me, and in the rush I opted to pay by phone. I got receipts mailed for most of the payments, but not for all, and now both my old and new FSA providers are asking for written proof for many of those payments.

Luckily, I have all the requested receipts and statements except for one of about $150. I’ll have to call the doctor’s office and hope they cooperate to send the statement (some aren’t very helpful or cooperative for some reason).

So the lesson here is that you need to save all receipts, statements, and check copies as proof of both services rendered and payment for those services. If you don’t, and can’t get the health care provider to issue a receipt, fully expect to pay it all back to your FSA.

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Clever Dude


  • I am confused. How did you even get the money from the FSA without the receipts? I have to submit the receipt to even get the money.

  • @Lynn, sorry, I failed to mention our FSA provider issues debit cards prefilled with our full election for the year. I’ve never been at a company where I didn’t have a debit card (3 companies and counting).

  • Oh, that explains it. We have an FSA through Aetna and they don’t provide that option. I so wish that I would get a debit card. That would be so much easier.

  • The issue I have with FSA accounts and correct me if I am wrong but, if you do not use all the money in the account by year end you lose it.

    That is why I never used them plus I hardly go to the docotors

  • @Rob, you’re right that it’s a “use it or lose it” rule with FSAs, which is why you really need to study your medical (including vision) expenses for the last few years and guesstimate very well for the next year. If you don’t use the doctor or have 100% coverage insurance, then it probably makes sense to not use the FSA, but for many of us, we probably spend $100 or so at the pharmacy on meds, bandages, etc. each year.

  • I could not agree more. My FSA requests a receipt for EVERYTHING, even though we have the debit cards as well. I understand they want to ensure the funds are being used properly, but what do they think I am buying at “Townname Family Practice”? Shoes?

  • Even though my FSA gives us a debit card and an online summary at their website, I still ask for receipts. It’s my “belt-and-suspenders” mentality, I guess.

    • @Perla, this isn’t official at all, but I keep my receipts for at most 6 months because usually your FSA provider will ask for them within 2-3 months after you’ve paid.

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