Everyday Essentials You Can Buy With an FSA

Eufemia Didonato

Air purifier

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With many routine health visits and procedures put off because of the pandemic, Americans may have more money left in their flexible spending accounts than they anticipated, and those pretax dollars will go to waste if unused. The good news is that the federal government is allowing employers to extend the deadline for spending FSA funds or let workers roll them over into next year — but it’s up to each company to set its own policy, so be sure to check with your human resources department.

If you do have to spend the money by the end of the year, or you’re wondering whether to contribute to an already-flush FSA for 2022, it’s helpful to know all the ways you can spend that use-it-or-lose-it cash. It’s not just for out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays, deductibles, and dental care. A lot more everyday items, from menstrual products to face masks, are now FSA-eligible (pay attention to the fine print, though). This list can help you avoid squandering the hard-earned money you’ve stockpiled.

Related: 20 Valuable Tax Breaks Seniors Should Know About

Contactless delivery at the entrance of the apartment, cardboard boxes

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You can buy FSA-eligible items in a variety of places, from doctors’, optometrists’, and dentists’ offices to medical supply outlets, local pharmacies, and certain big-box stores, among other merchants. But has it occurred to you to use your FSA card online? FSA Store sells only eligible items, including prepackaged bundles for everything from baby care to back-to-school, and lets buyers use their FSA debit cards directly. (The site also has a detailed list of eligibility requirements for a host of common items, as well as products and services that are not covered.) Amazon has an FSA/HSA storefront and now accepts the cards for payment.

Over-the-counter medications no longer require prescriptions to be eligible as FSA expenses — everything from aspirin and pain relievers to OTC allergy relief medicines is now fair game for immediate purchase.

Related: 50 Simple Ways for Seniors to Save on Medical Expenses

tampon

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The addition of menstrual products is another game changer. Not having to pay out of pocket for tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and even “period panties” can save people with extra funds in their FSA accounts at least one huge monthly headache during cash-strapped times. Here’s hoping that these products’ eligibility for pretax purchase carries over post-pandemic.


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bag with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer

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Doing your part to help check the spread of COVID-19 may just come with health savings attached. While face coverings usually require a “letter of medical necessity” to be bought with flex dollars, our look at administrators’ FAQs suggests that at least some have loosened reimbursement requirements amid the pandemic. Check your individual plan to see what types of masks are FSA-eligible, or purchase masks direct from the FSA Store to be sure that they meet approval.

Related: Masks and Accessories to Make Covering Your Face More Comfortable

Air purifier

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If you’re thinking about buying an air purifier, you should know that you’ll need a letter of medical necessity to use FSA funds; usually only asthmatics or people with severe allergies are considered eligible. So, be sure to have your paperwork in order, especially before purchasing a more expensive model such as the ever-popular Dyson line. For a simple, non-prescription device designed to help you breathe easier during cold and flu season, consider a personal steam inhaler.

Pulse Oximeter for checking oxygen saturation in blood on male hand

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Many products meant to monitor health at home are fully covered for flex spending, from blood pressure cuffs to thyroid test kits. If you’re most interested in keeping an eye out for potential coronavirus symptoms, invest in some “virus preparedness” supplies. You can use surplus FSA dollars to upgrade to a digital thermometer, an ear thermometer, or an infrared forehead thermometer for a quick and contactless reading. You might also want to pick up a pulse oximeter to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels. The FSA Store has added a COVID-19 at-home test to its inventory, and Amazon has its own branded FSA-eligible COVID test. (Both require samples to be sent to labs for results.)

Man pricking his finger for a blood sugar test

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While insurance plans often cover the costs of basic diabetic-care devices, FSA funds can come in handy if you’re paying for blood-sugar testing kits and other supplies on your own. Aside from glucose monitors, lancets, and test strips, pretax dollars can be used to buy insulin pen needles, alcohol swabs, and handy accessories, such as this convenient insulated carrying case with gel packs to keep supplies safe on the go. None of these items need prescriptions for purchase.


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medical bandage rolls, bandage, and scissors

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Now’s the time to stock a medicine cabinet with bandages, gauze, first-aid kits, hot and cold compresses — basically everything needed to treat cuts, bumps, and scrapes. The mantra of the day is keeping unnecessary doctor’s visits at bay.


Related:
25 Emergency Items You Should Put in a First Aid Kit

woman putting sunblock on her hand at the beach

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Preventing sun damage is part of protecting your overall health. Buy whatever sunscreen you want to toss in your beach bag next summer using pretax dollars. You can go with inexpensive-but-effective sunscreen or splurge on the good stuff, such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk ($30 to $40 on Amazon). Many organic brands also qualify for FSA spending.

contact lenses

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If you wear contact lenses, you’re familiar with how costly they can be. Fortunately, contact lenses, drops, saline solution — even glasses — are all FSA-eligible items. You can order a backup for those pesky, always-missing readers today.


Related:
18 Places to Buy Glasses Online for Less

single gold condom

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Always wanted to try colored, flavored, or “warming” condoms? Now’s your chance. Heck, you can even buy a variety bundle from FSA Store or a fishbowl full from Amazon if you’d like.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable woman taking a pregnancy test at home

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Finding out if you’re going to be a parent is an emotional and sometimes costly process. Lighten some of the financial burden with your FSA account. Ovulation testing kits are also approved.

expectant mother taking vitamin pills

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Pregnant and nursing people know how important it is to take proper vitamins. FSA Store and Amazon carry a multitude of brands. And while you’re at it, pick up some breastfeeding supplies such as nursing pads, nipple shields, or even a breast pump (if your insurance won’t cover one). All are eligible expenses.


Related:
11 Inexpensive Ways to Get More Vitamin D

Relaxation Mask

FSAstore

We’re all probably feeling more stress than we’d like right now. While it may not be the time for in-person alternative treatments, such as acupuncture – which, by the way, you are allowed to pay for using FSA money — there are a lot of soothing health products you can sample at home. Indulge in a little DIY pampering with an aromatherapy relaxation mask, an acupressure mat, a foot massager, or a body-calming heating pad.


Related:
33 Inexpensive Products to Ease Stress at Home

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