Planning for the the Unplanned
My wife and I have been discussing our FSA. Well, it’s not actually “ours” yet, until the 1st of the month. FSA stands for Flexible Spending Account. Essentially, it’s a program that allows you to use your own money to pay for medical needs tax-free. It has the potential to really save a bunch of money. From the sounds of it, there aren’t too many catches to it. You can use it for doctor visits – emergency or otherwise – but the cool thing is that you can also use it, apparently, to even buy contact solution! It’s almost a no-brainer.
You decide how much money to put in to the FSA and that will be deducted from your paycheck over the next 12 months. You have full access to your money via a debit card. The only “catch”, if there is one, is that you either use it, or you lose it. So, that’s where the strategy comes in.
How much money should we put into it? We’ve got some some expenses that can be planned, like glasses/contact, and the dentist, but how do you plan for the unexpected? It seems like we as a society don’t really do that when it comes to medical needs. We have insurance for that. Insurance takes the work out of planning for emergencies and doctor-related things. Every month we just hand over our money to the insurance company and trust that they will give us what we need when we need it.
I’m not knocking the system, I’m just making the point that we don’t have to think about our medical needs if we are insured. (FYI: I do have problems with the system, and, in fact, we’re not actually covered by insurance. We do have coverage of some kind, but it’s not “insurance”. But this post isn’t intended to knock the system. Perhaps I’ll talk more on that another time.)
So, as the deadline approached, JK and I tried to figure out how much money to plan for. Certainly, at least one of our kids is going to need to “unexpected” medical care in the next year. But that thought kinda scares me. How bad will this medical need be? Will one of my kids be hospitalized? Will one of them need a life-saving operation?
No wonder why we prefer insurance to being faced with mentally planning for the unexpected medical needs of a family. It’s not fun to think about.