If you’ve been meaning to invest in a hearing aid for you or a dependent this year, take a look at your FSA or HSA options. These tax-free savings accounts are great assets that can help lower the cost of hearing aids significantly, but some accounts need to be used before the end of the year.

How can I use my FSA/HSA account to buy a hearing aid?

If you have one of these accounts already set up in 2015, hearing aids are reimbursed in the same way as any other covered medical expense, such as eyeglasses or dental work. 

I have an FSA/HSA account but I don’t have enough money in it to pay for hearing aids. What should I do?

If you need hearing aids but don’t have sufficient funds in your account, speak to your plan holder about increasing your deposit to cover the hearing aids you are looking for. Remember these funds are deposited tax free so you can still save significantly on your aids. 

I don’t have an FSA or HSA. What are they?

If you are covered under an employer’s health insurance plan, you may have access to a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), where you can store funds intended for out-of-pocket medical expenses. The funds in these accounts can be used for medical costs not covered by your insurance, including buying a hearing aid.

An HSA/FSA allows account holders to pay for current health care expenses and save for those in the future. Its advantage is that contributions are tax-deductible, or if made through a payroll deduction, are pre-tax. Second, the interest earned on the account balance is tax-free.

How do they work?

You deposit money as a payroll deduction (FSA) or directly (HSA). When it comes time to actually make the purchase, it’s easy to access the funds in your account. Often you can access your FSA and HSA funds via a debit card, which can be used when you make your purchase. If you don’t have access to a debit card, you can submit receipts from your purchases to your insurance company or employer for reimbursement from your account. Since this is your money simply stored in an outside account, there is never a debate about how much insurance companies will reimburse, as long as it’s a qualified expense.

How much time do I have to use these accounts?

HSA accounts roll over into the following year. But if you’re planning on using FSA funds, remember that you need to make your purchase by December 31 to be eligible to use your account. 

How do I set up an account for next year?

Talk to your employer or insurance company about how to set up an account. It’s easy: you commit to an annual amount at the beginning of the year and you use the money when you need it. Remember this is a pre-tax payment, so you don’t pay income tax on your deposits or when you use the funds for a qualified expense. So by using these accounts in your purchase, you are buying your hearing aids income-tax free!