Fall is in the air…or at least it should be by this weekend. That also means that open enrollment is just around the corner for most folks. If you are lucky enough to have a medical flexible spending arrangement as a workplace benefit, take note of the December 31st deadline. Since this is a use-or-lose program, you have just over 90 days to wipe out your FSA balance or forfeit the unspent money, although some companies do offer a grace period until March 15th.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, enacted this year, there were some changes effective January 1st. Unlike in 2010, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs no longer qualify as an expense for FSA purposes. If this change caused you to overestimate what your 2011 medical expenses would be and you don’t want to lose the money in your account, then it’s time to start spending!

Go ahead and make those dental or vision appointments before the end of the year and before your calendar fills up (or your doctor’s). It might not be a bad idea to stock up on cold or flu treatments either. Of course there are still some items that don’t require a prescription, including hearing aid batteries, first aid supplies, contact lens solution, adult diapers, insulin and health monitors. For a complete list of eligible expenses, contact your plan administrator or refer to IRS Publication 969. Don’t forget to keep your documentation; according to the IRS you should be able to provide proof of purchase and proof of prescription, so make sure to save all of your receipts.