New research exploring the usage of FSAs suggests that the vast majority of workers take distributions from their accounts. In a brief titled “Findings from EBRI’s Flexible Spending Account Database, 2020” the Employee Benefit Research Institute used information from its database, which includes over 1.9 million FSAs, to explore how employees and employers use FSAs, which allow workers and employers to set aside money to be used on out-of-pocket health care costs. They found that 89% of employees with an FSA took a distribution from the account in 2020, with the average distribution coming in at around $1,287. That figure was on-par with the average contribution of $1,265.

Related: Important facts about flexible spending accounts (FSAs)

The new brief from the EBRI suggests that there is no significant difference between how employees contribute to and use these different types of FSAs. There were, however, notable differences between how workers used standard FSAs compared to limited-purpose FSAs, or LPFSAs. LPFSAs, which can only be used for certain vision and dental expenses, saw an average contribution of only $859 compared to $1,259 for traditional FSAs, and only 74% of contributors took a distribution from the account.

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