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End-of-year HRA tips: How to use your funds before they expire

Written by: Gabrielle Smith
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Published on December 15, 2021.

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) are an excellent way to save on your healthcare expenses throughout the year, especially if yours is set up to reimburse not just insurance premiums, but other out-of-pocket expenses.

One of the most common questions employees have about their HRA is: What happens to my unused HRA funds at the end of the year? Is it a “use it or lose it” situation, or do HRA funds roll over year-to-year?

We’ll answer this question and more FAQs surrounding HRA deadlines, how to make the most of your funds, and more end-of-year tips in this article.

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Watch our video for a summary of the 200+ HRA-eligible expenses

Does an HRA carry over year-to-year?

Whether or not your HRA funds will roll over into the new year depends on how your HRA is set up by your employer. Some HRAs do allow for annual rollover, however, most employers choose to reset allowances at the end of the calendar year and start things over in the new year. Currently, yearly rollover is not available if your employer is offering an HRA with PeopleKeep.

While it’s likely your HRA only allows for month-to-month rollover, be sure to reach out to your employer’s HRA plan administrator to check.

What is the deadline to submit HRA claims?

If your HRA doesn’t allow for annual rollover, you’ll need to make sure you submit your expenses for reimbursement in time before the end of the plan year.

Generally speaking, eligible employees can submit expenses for reimbursement anytime during the benefit year. For example, if the benefit year begins in January and ends in December, employees can submit expenses through the end of December.

However, depending on the plan documents, your employer may allow a grace period, also known as a runout period, for reimbursements. For example, your employer might extend their health reimbursement deadline by 90 days past the benefit year—giving you a 90-day runout period in which you can still submit expenses that were incurred within the plan year.

Again, don’t forget to check with your HRA administrator to get the details of your specific HRA plan.

Learn more about important HRA deadlines for both employers and employees

What can I spend my HRA money on?

If you have some unused HRA allowance left, you will receive notifications from PeopleKeep and in your PeopleKeep dashboard. There are plenty of ways to make the most of it before the new year rolls around and your allowance resets! Here are just a few ways you can make the most of your funds before they expire.

Over-the-counter medications

While you may not be feeling under the weather right now, stocking up on the things you need when you do get sick is the perfect way to use up any extra HRA funds you have before they expire.

A few items that are good to have on hand that are HRA-eligible include:

  • Aspirin or other pain relievers
  • Allergy and sinus medicine and products
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Cough drops and sore throat lozenges

Glasses, contacts, or prescription sunglasses

If you, your spouse, or any of your dependents wear prescription glasses, or even reading glasses, you can buy yourself or them a new pair and get it reimbursed with your HRA. Contacts and contact solutions are also HRA-eligible.

You may even consider getting blue light filtering lenses to help reduce headaches when using screens, or getting a pair of prescription sunglasses just for fun!

First aid supplies

When was the last time you looked through your first aid kit? The end of the year is the perfect time to give it a refresh to make sure you’ve got what you need in case of an emergency.

Some items that are perfect for a first aid kit that are also HRA-eligible include:

  • Antacids
  • Bandaids
  • Dental and oral pain products
  • Diaper rash creams
  • Ear and eye drops
  • Laxatives
  • Motion sickness medication
  • Nasal sprays and strips
  • Sunscreen
  • Wound care products

Don’t want to put together your own first aid kit? No worries—if you buy one that’s already put together for you, that’s HRA-eligible too!

Skincare products

You may not realize it, but many skincare products are also HRA-eligible. Any creams or makeup products that you use that also have 15+ SPF protection can be reimbursed. What’s more, many acne medicines and treatments can be covered by your HRA too.

If you’re not sure what kind of skincare products you need, make an appointment with a dermatologist—the office visit is also reimbursable, as well as any products they recommend.

In some cases, you’ll need a note from your dermatologist or other doctor in order to get the products reimbursed, but as long as you have the necessary documentation, you’ll be good to go!

Want more ideas? Check out the full list of the 200+ HRA-eligible expenses

Conclusion

Having a unique and personalized benefit like an HRA is a huge boon to individuals and families looking to pay for their healthcare products and services. Whether you have big procedures planned or just need to stock up on a few over-the-counter products, the examples in this article will help you make the most of your HRA before the plan year ends.

Originally published on December 15, 2021. Last updated December 15, 2021.
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