Inflexible-Spending Accounts

Use-it-or-lose-it rules are ruining a great benefit. Help is on the way. But till then, here's how to cope

Only a printer could love the annual benefits open-enrollment period bearing down on millions of employees. Instruction packets the size of a Sunday newspaper will clog your In box at work very soon, an oppressive reminder of how much you'll never know when it comes to deductibles, referrals and reimbursables--to say nothing of why your schizo doctor switches plans every year. Many won't read further than they must, which helps explain why so few--just 12% of those given the option--enroll in flexible-spending accounts (FSAs).

When employees figure out that they'll lose any pretax money they set aside but don't spend, most...

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