If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), your tax-free health funds won’t last forever, which means you’ll need to spend them every year or lose them. What can you spend them on? Quite a bit, actually. FSAs are established through your employer and you can use the money you deposit for a variety of dental or orthodontic treatments.
AlignerCo treatment often falls under the FSA umbrella, so you might be able to cover some treatment costs by using your FSA funds. Many FSAs let you use them for at-home aligner treatment, which can make the price a lot more manageable. Before you commit to treatment, you should understand how your FSA functions. That’s what we’re here to discuss. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a thorough understanding of FSAs and how they can pay for AlignerCo treatment.
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What Is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
An FSA is a savings account that allows you to deposit pre-tax income for the sole purpose of paying future health care expenses. You can choose to deposit a certain percentage of your paycheck, and your employer might contribute as well, although it’s not required. You can link an FSA to a debit card and use it just like you would any other card. Or, you can file for reimbursement on eligible expenses. The current limit on FSA deposits is $2,650 per year, so you shouldn’t plan on having more than that available for treatments.
People who have routine health expenses—like prescription drugs and office visits for chronic conditions—often find FSAs helpful, since they have a set number of tax-free dollars to cover their month-to-month health expenses. But even if you have intermittent expenses, you can simply choose to deposit less money in your FSA and it can help cover whatever comes up.
It’s important to remember that FSA money does not roll over from year to year. It’s a “use it or lose it” system. So if you’re approaching the year’s end and still have funds left, you’ll want to find something to spend them on.
How to get an FSA
You can only set up an FSA if your employer offers it as an option. When the benefits coordinator goes over your options, they will likely let you know whether or not you have the option of getting an FSA. If you’re interested, your employer will provide the forms you need to get started.
Do FSA Funds Cover Dental/Orthodontics?
You can use FSA dollars for a wide variety of dental treatments and procedures. The specific qualifying treatments can vary based on your plan, but FSAs can typically cover preventative care and basic dental procedures, such as fillings and bridgework.
FSAs don’t ordinarily cover cosmetic procedures, though, so teeth whitening, veneers, etc. are probably out of the question. Sometimes orthodontic treatment is considered cosmetic and other times it’s not. It depends on your specific FSA.
What Types of Orthodontic Treatment Can an FSA Cover?
You can use FSA funds for just about any orthodontic treatment that isn’t considered cosmetic. How are cosmetic treatments determined? It’s different for various FSAs, so you’ll need to check with your specific plan and employer.
Generally, orthodontic treatments that you receive in-person, like braces and Invisalign are eligible for FSA payments. Our understanding is that most FSAs can also be used to cover at-home aligner treatment with services like AlignerCo or SmileDirectClub. However, this does not always seem to be the case. Since at-home aligner treatment is not suitable for correcting more severe misalignments, some FSAs do seem to classify this form of treatment as cosmetic and may refuse coverage.,
Can I Use My FSA for AlignerCo Clear Aligners?
Most of the time you can, but not in every case. While there are standard treatments that most FSAs cover, each account is slightly different. Many FSAs classify AlignerCo (and other home aligners) with similar orthodontic treatments. Some, however, may lump them in with cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening, which typically aren’t covered. The only way to know for sure is by reviewing your FSA’s explanation of benefits (EOB) or asking your FSA administrator.
On their FAQ page, AlignerCo says “invisible aligners for teeth straightening do fall under orthodontic service, which is covered by most of HSA & FSA accounts.” Even so, you’ll want to confirm that your specific FSA covers at-home clear aligners before proceeding with treatment.
Will AlignerCo Help Me Use My FSA?
Yes, but on a limited basis. If you’re filing a claim for FSA reimbursement, they will provide an itemized receipt and other information you might need to provide. But they won’t fill out your paperwork or communicate with your FSA administrator (or dental insurance provider) on your behalf. If you plan on filing for an FSA reimbursement, you should make sure that you understand the process and documents since you’ll need to handle them on your own. Your employer’s H.R. office may be able to walk you through the process.
If you want a home aligner company that will handle every aspect of FSA and dental insurance reimbursement for you, check out Byte. Their insurance team will take care of the paperwork for you, so you can kick back and wait for your reimbursement.
How To Use FSA Funds for AlignerCo Treatment
FSAs can disperse funds in two ways: a card or a reimbursement. Some FSAs will issue you a card that’s linked to your account. You can use this card just like a regular credit or debit card and the funds will be approved if you’re using it for an eligible expense (although you might still need to supply receipts or other verification). When ordering AlignerCo treatment, you would
enter your card information on the payment page and they will process your purchase the same way.
Anyone who doesn’t have a linked card has to pay for treatment and then file a claim for reimbursement. AlignerCo will provide receipts for your purchase so you can verify it with your FSA. Your employer or FSA administrator can provide the documents you need to submit and they might be able to walk you through the process too.
What If I Have Dental Insurance, Too?
If you have dental insurance that covers at-home aligners and an FSA, you’re in good shape, because you can use both to simultaneously pay for your AlignerCo treatment. But not all dental insurance plans cover online aligner services. If your plan includes orthodontic benefits, you might receive coverage, but you might not. Some insurance plans cover AlignerCo, but the company doesn’t have any partnerships with specific providers like Byte and SmileDirectClub do. And unlike their competitors, they won’t help you check to see if your treatment is covered, so you’ll have to reach out to your insurance company.
Even when a plan does cover home aligners, they don’t often pay for more than 50%, so you’ll still have out-of-pocket costs. Let’s say your insurance covers 30% of your treatment. You can use an FSA to pay for the remaining amount (or part of the remaining amount). You shouldn’t choose to use an FSA instead of dental insurance, though, since FSA funds are technically your own money. Use both if you have the chance! Unless you’re saving your FSA funds for other treatments down the road.
Flexible Spending Accounts vs. Health Savings Accounts
They’re similar in name, but not always similar in function. Here are some of the differences you should know.
|Who qualifies||Anyone whose employer offers them as a benefit||Only people with a qualifying high deductible health plan (HDHP)|
|2020 contribution limit||$2,650 for an individual||$3,550 for an individual, $7,100 for a family|
|Contribution adjustments||Only during open or special enrollment periods||Anytime|
|Expiration||Dec. 31 every year||None, unused funds will roll over|
|Account ownership||Owned by the employer. You lose it if you change jobs.||Owned by the individual and follows you during employment changes.|
|Using funds||Might not have access to funds for non-medical expenses||Can withdraw funds for non-medical expenses, but must pay a 20% penalty|
Just like FSAs, you can usually use HSA funds to pay for AlignerCo treatment. Again, it depends on your specific plan, so you’ll want to check the details before signing up for either one.
AlignerCo treatment is already affordable, but an FSA can make the price even more manageable. They might not help you through the process as much as some competitors, but they’re still eligible for coverage. Just be sure to check with your employer or FSA administrator on your account details before committing to treatment. You might get your new smile for a lot less than expected!