Yes, you can use your FSA and HSA to help with the cost of your LASIK procedure. For the tax year 2023, the IRS announced the annual contribution limits for both the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and the Health Savings Accounts (HSA). Those who have access to these accounts may be interested to learn they can use their FSA or HSA for laser vision correction such as LASIK as these procedures are an eligible expense according to the IRS.
HSAs and FSAs are popular options for financing LASIK
The 2023 limits for pre-tax contributions to HSA and FSA accounts rose significantly to help consumers keep up with inflation. An individual can set aside up to $3,050 in a healthcare Flexible Spending Account (also known as a Flexible Spending Arrangement), which is a $200 increase over the 2022 limit. Some employers also contribute to employee FSA accounts. Another pre-tax health funding option is known as a Health Savings Account (HSA). For 2023, individuals can set aside up to $3,850 and families up to $7,750 in an HSA.
Because FSAs or HSAs can be used to cover some or all of the cost of LASIK surgery using pre-tax money, they are a popular way to save for and on laser eye surgery procedures and a smart long-term investment. It is extremely important to have an eye care professional look at your LASIK prescription requirements which can help patients reduce or, in some cases, eliminate their need for prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.
“Every day I see patients who use their flexible spending or health savings accounts to pay for their LASIK surgery,” said Dr. Eric Donnenfeld, a member of the Refractive Surgery Council. “By doing this, they are saving money on a lifetime of vision care costs using tax-free money.”
What is an FSA?
An FSA allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to pay for eligible out-of-pocket expenses. You set the level you want to contribute and your contributions to the account are spread out evenly over the year.
As we mentioned earlier, the maximum you can contribute for 2023 to the program is $3,050.
The main benefit of the program, according to Mike Travers, a senior benefits consultant at TriNet, is that you can access the full amount of your annual contribution election — even if you haven’t made all the pre-tax deductions for the year.
“It’s one of my favorite benefits,” Travers said. “Where else can you access funds before you have contributed them to an account?”
Typically with an FSA you must use the full contribution amount within the calendar year (ending December 31) or risk losing the balance. Some plans have a grace period, which allows you to delay the use of the funds for up to a period of 2.5 months into the new plan year, while others permit a small carryover amount, which increased to $610 for 2023. Although the IRS offered a one-time exemption to employers in 2021 to allow a full amount carryover into 2022, that option expires on December 31, 2022.
Can you use an FSA for LASIK?
Yes, you can use an FSA for LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures. The IRS places restrictions on what is covered by FSA funds. However, an FSA currently covers laser vision correction procedures including LASIK, SMILE, PRK, and other techniques.
What is an HSA?
An HSA is a tax-advantaged bank account that allows you to save pre-tax dollars through payroll deductions. You can then use those funds to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare costs. You must be enrolled in a high-deductible health care policy to be eligible for an HSA. The funds in your HSA can help pay for medical expenses not covered by health insurance.
As previously mentioned, the amount you can set aside for 2023 in an HSA is:
$3,850 (individual)$7,750 (family)
“It’s slightly different than an FSA in that contributions must be deposited in the HSA before you can use the money to pay for eligible expenses. It’s your own money, pre-tax, that’s in a bank account,” Travers explains.
There is no “use it or lose it” requirement with an HSA like there is with an FSA. You can allow the funds to accumulate until you are ready to use them.
Can You Use HSA for LASIK?
You can use an HSA for LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures. Like the FSA, the IRS sets limits on what procedures can be covered by an HSA. Laser vision correction procedures including LASIK, SMILE, and PRK are eligible expenses. This is great news because while many insurance plans offer benefits and discounts for LASIK and other laser vision corrections, these vision plans are unlikely to cover the entire expense.
How to Use Your FSA For Laser Vision Correction
If you are a candidate for LASIK or other laser vision correction procedures, you can use your FSA or HSA dollars to help pay for it. But the entire cost of the procedure, particularly using the most advanced technologies, may not be covered by the total allowable contribution ($3,050 in 2022) in an FSA fund for a given year. Make sure to research what options you have to pay for the cost of LASIK.
If your company’s plan provides a “grace period” you can combine any remaining FSA funds from the previous year with the FSA funds from the current year. The grace period is 2.5 months.
How to use your HSA for Laser Vision Correction
Funds in HSAs are available without a time limit. You could fully fund your HSA each year (reminder, the deadline for 2022 account contribution is April 15, 2023), and tap into the account when you have enough money to cover the procedure your surgeon recommends.
If your employer offers an FSA program, you can use it in conjunction with your HSA to fund your procedure.
Plan Wisely, Plan Ahead
With either FSA or HSA accounts, you can pay a significant amount of your LASIK procedure pre-tax. The key is to be aware of the contribution limits, the limits of your own health care policy, and if your employer offers you an HSA.
When you consider how you can use the FSA grace period or HSA rollover to your advantage, it’s wise to plan ahead for your LASIK procedure and coordinate the scheduling with your doctor. Leveraging FSA and HSA benefits for laser vision correction can be a great way to save money and achieve your vision goals.
Dr. Isaac Porter, MD is an ophthalmology specialist in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Porter is also a fellowship-trained refractive surgeon. His areas of expertise include laser vision correction with LASIK, LALEX (SMILE), PRK, and LR, as well as modern cataract surgery, including laser surgery and advanced technology lens implants that can correct a wide range of vision and astigmatism. He is also the only surgeon in North Carolina performing the newest laser vision correction procedure, LALEX (SMILE). He graduated from University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 2005.