Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) holds pre-tax money for you to spend on qualifying medical expenses. But there’s one big issue with these accounts: if you don’t spend the money before the end of the year, you lose it.
So, what can you use those funds for? Quite a bit, actually! And yes, you can use your FSA to pay for your Byte aligner treatment in most cases. And Byte will handle all of the hard stuff — questions, reimbursement, paperwork, and more. If you don’t know where to start (or even what an FSA is), this guide and Byte’s support team will help you use your FSA funds effectively.
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What Is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
FSAs are a type of employer-sponsored savings account that holds pre-tax money, allowing you to apply the funds toward qualifying medical expenses. Unless your employer also pays into the account, all the money in there is your income; you are only saving in terms of paying less income tax. As of January 1st, 2023, the limit on individual FSA deposits is $3,050 per year.
FSAs aren’t perfect for everyone. In general, if you don’t have routine health expenses — think prescription drugs, frequent office visits, or physical therapy — you might not be able to use your funds before they expire. However, in this case, you could deposit less money and use it on an as-needed basis.
There is one caveat, though, and it’s a big one: FSA funds do not roll over from year to year, unlike HSAs. The only exception is if your employer allows for a small rollover ($615 or less). This use-it-or-lose-it system means that if you don’t have recurring expenses, adding funds is a bit of a gamble and you might want to search for things to spend them on.
How to Get an FSA
FSAs are employer-sponsored accounts. This means that the only way you can get one is through a job, and not all companies offer them as a benefit. You can speak with your HR department to see if you can open one, and if you take on a new job, be sure to ask about FSAs when discussing benefits.
Can I Use My FSA for Byte Clear Aligners?
Just like with dental insurance, it depends on your specific plan. Most FSAs will refuse to cover cosmetic dentistry. This normally just means procedures like teeth whitening, but can sometimes include at-home aligner treatment. It all depends on how the FSA classifies online aligner services like Byte.
That said, many FSAs will include at-home aligners under qualifying orthodontia. According to Byte’s website, impression kits, aligners, and retainers “are a covered expense for almost all flexible spending and health savings accounts.” So, you’ll most likely be able to use your FSA if you want.
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Do FSA Funds Cover Other Dental/Orthodontic Treatments?
Every FSA has its own approach to what it deems a qualifying medical expense. If something is strictly cosmetic—like teeth whitening or veneers—it won’t be eligible for coverage. Preventative and basic dental procedures, however, are usually qualifying expenses.
So where does orthodontic treatment fall? Most often, it’s covered. Since it can correct problems that cause pain, tooth decay, gum disease, and more, dentists and orthodontists usually consider it necessary. Some FSA providers might consider certain cases cosmetic, but those cases are rare.
What Types of Orthodontic Treatment Can an FSA Cover?
Basically, as long as your treatment isn’t considered cosmetic, you are allowed to apply FSA funds towards the cost. So, how do FSAs determine what is cosmetic and what isn’t? That varies between account administrators. Check with yours to get tailored guidance.
In most cases, orthodontic treatments rendered in-office or using a hybrid model are eligible for FSA payments — think Invisalign, 3M Clarity, and Candid. You can also typically use FSA funds for at-home aligners, but it isn’t universally true. Because these systems are limited to correcting mild-to-moderate misalignments, some administrators deem them ineligible.
Will Byte Help Me Use My FSA?
Yes! In fact, Byte will walk you through every part of the payment process. Just let your Byte advisor know and they can put you in touch with their insurance team, who will help you navigate your provider’s payment or reimbursement procedures. They’ll even fill out all the necessary paperwork for you, so you can be sure that it will be timely and accurate.
Byte is the only at-home aligner company that handles the entire claims and reimbursement process. Other companies might check to see if your plan covers their treatment, but leave you to file the claim on your own.
How To Use FSA Funds for Byte Treatment
There are two ways to use an FSA account. You can either link it to a card or not. If you’ve linked your account, you can use the card just like you would a regular debit card: enter the card’s information at checkout. These cards are often automatically approved if you’re using them for a qualifying treatment, although the FSA administrator might ask you to submit additional receipts or paperwork.
If you don’t have an FSA card, you’ll need to pay for treatment yourself, then file for reimbursement. In this case, you would need claim paperwork, which will vary based on your FSA and provider. Your employer should have this paperwork available, and they might help you submit it too. Or, you can just ask Byte. They’ll fill out the necessary forms and communicate with your FSA or insurance provider for you.
What If I Have Dental Insurance, Too?
There’s a chance that you might be eligible to use dental insurance coverage and FSA funds to pay for your treatment. If your dental insurance plan includes orthodontic benefits, they may partially cover your Byte treatment. In this case, Byte would fill out your claim paperwork and help you receive the appropriate discounts or reimbursement.
However, insurance will rarely cover the entire cost of orthodontic treatment. They also might have age limits (some cover children but not adults) or lifetime spending maximums. So, you’ll still have out-of-pocket costs. But if you also have an FSA, you can use that too. If you want to use both, you’ll pay for the entire cost with your FSA, then Byte will help you get a reimbursement from your insurance provider.
The benefit of using dental insurance is that the provider will cover some of your costs. Using an FSA is still using your own money since it came out of your paycheck. If you think you might have other medical expenses later in the year, you might hold off on using up your FSA funds. However, if the end of the year is approaching, make sure to use all your remaining FSA dollars or else you’ll lose them.
Flexible Spending Accounts vs. Health Savings Accounts
While similar in name, purpose, and tax-free status, flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts are not the same. Below is a chart helping you navigate the differences between them.
|Who qualifies||Anyone whose employer offers them as a benefit||Only people with a qualifying high deductible health plan (HDHP)|
|2023 contribution limit||$3,050 for an individual||$3,850 for an individual, $7,750 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 with FSAs, HSA funds can be used to cover orthodontic treatment, including at-home aligners in most cases. It really just depends on the policies set by your account administrator and how they interpret the law. Check with them before trying to use HSA funds for Byte.
Using your pre-tax funds can help make the cost of home aligners a whole lot more manageable. So, if you have an FSA, paying for your Byte treatment might be easier than it initially seems.
Compared to other at-home teeth-straightening services, Byte goes the extra mile to ensure that you can access your insurance coverage and FSA funds. So, if you’re still unsure where to start or how to proceed, get in touch with Byte’s support team, and they’ll take it from there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are FSAs voluntary?
Yes, flexible spending accounts are a voluntary benefit that some businesses offer their employees. If you are not interested in having one, you can say so when hired, and depending on the employer, they might be able to just not make the account. You also have the option to have the account but not contribute money until you feel the need.
Do employers contribute money to FSA accounts?
This varies between employers but many do contribute a set amount to their employees’ FSAs each year. If your company does this, you will have funds in your account whether or not you choose to contribute.
What are the biggest differences between HSAs and FSAs?
The two biggest differences are rollover and employer ties. FSAs do not allow funds to roll over from year to year; you either use the money before the end of the year or you lose it. HSA funds roll into the next year, so there is no rush to spend them. And since FSAs are employer-sponsored, if you switch companies, you lose the account. HSAs are owned by you and you keep them as long as you are in a high-deductible health plan.
If I have both an FSA and an HSA, which should I use?
Start with your insurance benefits, then move on to your FSA since the money does not roll over. If you still have a remaining balance for treatment after using insurance and FSA funds, then use your HSA funds to cover the rest.
If I change jobs, do I lose my FSA funds?
This depends if the job change moves you to a new company or just a new position within the same company. If you continue on with the same employer, you should retain your account and funds.
How do FSA administrators determine if something is cosmetic or not?
For the most part, account administrators follow the rule that if something is medical or directly medical adjacent, funds can be used to pay for it, but if it isn’t medical or connected directly to something medical, they typically cannot. You can view a general guide to covered expenses here.
Why are in-office treatments more likely to be considered qualifying medical expenses?
Because they are clearly medical in nature, while treatments you complete at home can fall into a gray area.
Are FSA funds easy to use?
Yes, in most cases, accounts come with a debit card, which you use just like any other card. If you don’t have this, you can request it. Another option is to file for reimbursement, with the funds going into your primary bank account once it is approved.
What happens if I use my funds for a non-qualifying expense?
Since the money was put into the account before paying taxes, you will need to pay those. On top of this, there can be up to a 20% tax penalty and your employer might charge fees as well.