How does FSA reimbursement work?

Prescription bottle with bills and dollar bill

A flexible spending account (FSA) can help you save on the cost of health care. When you spend money on eligible expenses, you can get reimbursed from your FSA. 

Here’s what you should know about FSAs and how you get reimbursed:

What is an FSA?

An FSA is an account that allows you to put money aside for eligible medical, dental and vision expenses, including eye exams. You choose how much to contribute to your FSA at the beginning of your benefits year, and funds are deducted from your paycheck. When you pay for an eligible expense, you can get reimbursed from your FSA.

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The benefit of an FSA is that it uses pre-tax dollars. Money from your paycheck is moved into your FSA before taxes are applied, so it lowers your taxable income and stretches your money further. Depending on how much you spend each year on health care, an FSA could help you save a lot of money!

How does reimbursement work?

Getting reimbursed is relatively straightforward. You’ll pay for your expenses out of pocket from your bank account and then submit a claim to your provider. If your claim is accepted, your provider will move money from your FSA into your bank account.

What do I need to do before I can be reimbursed?

  1. Sign up for an FSA. The first step is signing up for an FSA with your employer. Once you’ve filled out the necessary paperwork and set your contribution for the year, you can start using your FSA. You’ll immediately have access to the full amount that you intend to contribute for the entire year — not just the first month’s funds.

  2. Make sure your expense is eligible. While not every expense is eligible, there are plenty of services and products that can be paid for with an FSA — like reading glasses or contact lenses.

  3. Check your bank account. Since you’ll need to pay out of pocket, make sure there’s enough money in your bank account to cover the cost of your health care expense. 

  4. Save your receipt. To get reimbursed, you’ll need to prove that you paid for the expense out of pocket. Hang onto your receipt and make a digital copy. 

  5. Gather additional proof. You might need to submit more documentation, depending on the type of service or product. For example, if you’re submitting a claim for prescription eyeglasses you might need to scan the eyeglasses prescription from your eye doctor.

How do I submit a claim for reimbursement?

Once you’ve paid for your eligible expense out of pocket, you can submit your claim for reimbursement. Log into the website designated by your account provider and find the option to submit your claim.

You’ll be asked for some information like details about the product or service you received and the date it was provided. You’ll also attach the digital copy of your receipt and declare how much was covered by your health insurance. 

If your claim is accepted, your bank account will be reimbursed with money from your FSA.

Are there any other reimbursement options?

Your plan might offer an FSA card. This is essentially a debit card that’s tied to your FSA account. Rather than paying out of pocket, you can simply use your FSA card to pay for eligible expenses. 

Your claim will be automatically accepted or denied. You’ll still want to keep your receipts just in case you need to dispute a denied claim.

Keep in mind that money in your FSA doesn’t roll over from year to year. If you’re nearing the end of your benefits year and have money to spend, find an eye doctor and start putting your FSA dollars to use.

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