As you're read this, I hope you are feeling content with family and/or friends. You can breathe easier knowing that you have found the perfect gift for those on your list. The grocery shopping is done and you are likely going to prepare and/or feast on a delicious meal. There is great satisfaction in preparing for and completing important tasks, especially when the end result is often so pleasant. (Ok, I know there may be some quirky relatives, but that can’t be helped.)
I hope you enjoy this day with love and peace. Tomorrow you might want to take another look at this column for some year-end items you may need to check off your new “to do” list.
- Did you spend your FSA (Flexibile Spending Account)? Look at your account balance and review to see if you need to make any last minute purchases. Some of the items you can buy that you may not use immediately include bandages and contact lense solution
You can be reimbursed for transportation expenses primarily for and essential to medical care such as:
- Bus, taxi, train, or plane fares or ambulance service,
- Transportation expenses of a parent who must go with a child who needs medical care.
- Transportation expenses for regular visits to see a mentally ill dependent, if these visits are recommended as a part of treatment.
You can include out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, when you use a car for medical reasons. You can't include depreciation, insurance, general repair, or maintenance expenses. If you don't want to use your actual expenses for 2016, you can use the standard medical mileage rate of 19 cents a mile. You can also include parking fees and tolls, whether you use actual expenses or the standard mileage rate.
Go to https://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/index.html for a complete list.
Check to see if your plan has a carry-over provision, in the event you wish to carry over some of the balance to next year rather than spend it all. Also look at the plan’s grace period to find out the deadline to submit claims incurred in 2016.
- Did you fully fund your HSA (Health Savings Account)? If you have a Qualified High Deductible Health Plan then you are eligible to fund this special tax favored savings account. It’s typically a good idea to contribute the maximum. The 2016 contribution maximum limits are as follows: Self-only coverage $3350; Family Coverage $6750. Those age 55 or over are eligible for a $1000 annual “catch up” contribution. Remember there is no “use it or lose it provision” to this account and funds withdrawn for qualified expenses are never taxed for federal purposes.
- Did you review your open enrollment options for your employer sponsored health plan? It’s likely that the enrollment period is closed, but some small group carriers will allow you to make changes until the end of the month prior to the plan anniversary. However, you will likely not be making your HR professional too happy.
- Have your reviewed your health plan Provider list? Remember if the plan is a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plan you will receive the highest level of benefits using providers on the list. If your plan is an EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization) you will receive no benefits if you go out of network, unless it’s an emergency
- Have your reviewed your health plan’s prescription drug formulary for the coming year? These lists are subject to change. The lowest cost option is most likely the generic version of the drug. But with some drugs, even the generic is expensive or is not on the formulary. I advise my clients, especially seniors to bring the drug formulary with them to any physician appointments. (Or download the plan’s Rx app if you are savvy). Your doctor has many options when he chooses your medication, so help him/her out with the list.
You are helping to contain future premiums when you choose your Rx wisely. Most individuals are more than willing to change their Rx when they see how that high cost brand name drugs effects their individual costs after I have explained Medicare Part D. If they had only looked at it when they were on their group plan for so many years….
- Do you think you missed open enrollment for individual plans? Fear not, you may enroll in or
change plans until 1/31/2017. Of course that is absent any changes that might be made on or following Inauguration Day.
Wishing you a most happy holiday season. Enjoy the rest as 2017 promises to be a very interesting year!