Learn from this list of FSA eligible expenses about surprising ways your flexible spending account has you covered.
Do you have a flexible spending account (FSA) to help you pay for your health care costs? Then, you may have questions about how to spend your FSA dollars. Usually, you will forfeit any unspent FSA funds in your account at the end of the plan period. The money you put into your FSA account will be lost if it isn’t spent during the plan period.
You need to know which of your health care expenses are eligible, so you don’t waste your FSA funds. Make the use of those funds for every eligible medical expense part of your strong health plan. It turns out that there are many surprising FSA eligible expenses that people may not be aware of. This article lists some of the unexpected services and products that you can pay for with your FSA dollars.
Use it or lose it
The most common FSA expenses that may spring to mind include:
- Insurance plan deductibles and copays.
- Over-the-counter medicines.
- Dental work.
But there are many others that people don’t usually think of.
Every year, my husband and I set aside a good chunk of money in our FSA. We have 4 kids who are fond of riding skateboards and jumping out of trees. So we tend to spend these health care funds long before the end of the year. (The urgent care nurse already knows my son’s favorite bandage color.)
But if your family isn’t accident-prone, you might worry that you’ll set aside more than you can spend. After all, FSA plans are usually “use it or lose it.” If you don’t use all of the FSA dollars in your account by the end of the year, you will usually lose the unspent money. Your plan sponsor may choose to provide a limited grace period or a carryover. But it’s not required to do so. Either way, at some point, the unspent funds will be forfeited.
So, finding ways to spend all of your FSA funds can be a concern. Many people are surprised to learn that there are many unexpected products and services that are considered FSA eligible expenses.
Qualifying FSA expenses
Learn all you can about FSAs. There are 3 basic types:
Healthcare FSA (HCFSA)
You can use this FSA to cover qualified medical, vision, and dental expenses not covered by your insurance plans. Qualified medical expenses usually must be for services or products that prevent or treat physical or mental illnesses or disabilities. They cannot be used for things like vacations that some people take in an attempt to promote general health.
Limited Expense Healthcare FSA (LEX HCFSA)
You can use the money in this FSA to pay for eligible dental and vision care products and services. Normally, if you have a health savings account (HSA), you cannot also have a healthcare FSA. However, you can have both an HSA and a Limited Expense Healthcare FSA and/or a Dependent Care FSA at the same time.
Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA)
You can use your DCFSA account to pay for services that you need to care for children younger than 13 or dependent adults while you work. DCFSA dollars may be used to cover services such as work-related babysitting, daycare, and preschool. Like the Limited Expense Healthcare FSA, the Dependent Care FSA can be combined with an HSA.
Surprising FSA eligible expenses
Let’s take a look at some surprisingly eligible FSA expenses. Note that for some items, you’ll need a letter of medical necessity (LMN) from a doctor or other healthcare practitioner.
- Transportation to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings: You can use your Healthcare FSA to pay for transportation to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In fact, transportation to any medical care is an eligible expense.
- Halfway house: (HCFSA) People leaving an inpatient facility for addiction treatment sometimes live in a halfway house, or a sober living house, afterward. This helps them ease the transition back to their lives. This requires an LMN.
- Air conditioning: (HCFSA) People with certain respiratory illnesses and allergies need air conditioning to filter the air in their homes. This can allow them to keep the windows closed (and thus keep pollen out!). You’ll have to have an LMN to get reimbursement.
- Hypoallergenic pillows and pillow protectors: (HCFSA) People often suffer from allergies to dust, pollen, or things floating in the air. They might use these products to keep their symptoms at bay while they sleep. In some cases, your HCFSA will reimburse you for these products with an LMN.
- Hypoallergenic mattress covers are eligible FSA expenses, too!
- Batteries: (HCFSA) If you use them to power a medical device, your batteries are FSA eligible.
Personal care products
- Anti-snore guards: (HCFSA) If you have an LMN stating that you need it to treat a medical condition, your anti-snore guard may be eligible for FSA reimbursement.
- Arch support: (HCFSA) Use shoe inserts if you were born with high arches in your feet! They may be considered eligible FSA expenses.
- Compression gloves: (HCFSA) These can help ease arthritis pain.
- Sunscreen: (HCFSA). If the SPF is 15 or above, sunscreen is eligible.
- Lip balm: (HCFSA) No doctor’s prescription needed!
- Denture adhesive: (HCFSA, LEX FSA) Anyone with dentures needs this to keep their teeth in place.
- Dental veneers: (HCFSA, LEX FSA) These can brighten your smile. You’ll need an LMN for this one.
- Hand sanitizer: (HCFSA) You’ll need a prescription since it contains an active medical ingredient, but you can use your FSA to pay for hand sanitizer.
- Pain relief medication purchased over the counter.
- Menstrual care products.
Fertility treatments and birth control
- Intrauterine insemination: (HCFSA) IUI is used to treat infertility. It is a process whereby a doctor injects sperm directly into the mother’s uterus to aid in conception.
- In vitro fertilization: (HCFSA) In IVF, an egg is fertilized by sperm outside of the body.
- Birth control pills: (HCFSA) If you have a prescription, your FSA can pay for birth control pills and other contraception such as the following:
- Contraception patch.
- Vaginal birth control rings.
- intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Spermicidal creams.
- Condoms: (HCFSA) Birth control methods that don’t use an active medical ingredient are FSA eligible expenses, too, and they don’t require a prescription.
Baby and child care
- Childcare: (DCFSA) You can charge certain childcare expenses, including daycare, after-school programs, or extended care, to your DCFSA. However, this expense is only eligible for reimbursement if you need it for you or your spouse to work.
- Childcare agency fees: (DCFSA) Families can use a childcare agency to help them find a nanny. You can use DCFSA funds to pay for the agency if the nanny is necessary for you or your spouse to work.
- Au pair: (DCFSA) Your DCFSA will also reimburse you for au pair expenses. An au pair is, generally, a young nanny from another country who comes to live with you to help with childcare.
- Baby breathing monitor: (HCFSA) Some parents of newborns use these monitors to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Baby formula: (HCFSA) If you have an LMN stating that your baby needs a specialized formula, your FSA can pay the difference in price between the special and the regular formulas.
- Diaper rash cream: (HCFSA) You’ll need a prescription for this one.
- Bed-wetting aids: (HCFSA) If you have an older child or adult in your family who suffers from nighttime incontinence, you can use your FSA to pay for their overnight pull-ups or absorbent mattress pads.
Alternative medical treatments
- Alternative healers: (HCFSA) Are you into “natural medicine”? Homeopathy, naturopathy, energy therapy, chiropractic, and reiki are just a few examples of alternative healing that are FSA eligible.
- Acupressure: (HCFSA) Do you have body pain, nausea, or anxiety? If so, you might want to use your FSA to pay for acupressure.
- Acupressure mats and wristbands are eligible, too. In some cases, you might need an LMN.
- Acupuncture: (HCFSA) Some people prefer acupuncture to relieve pain, promote sleep, or improve digestion. It’s one of the eligible FSA expenses, too. You may need an LMN.
- Parking: (HCFSA) If you have to pay to park at your doctor’s office, you can charge it to your FSA.
- Airfare: (HCFSA) If you, your spouse, or your dependent child need to see a doctor out of town, you can pay for your plane ticket with your HCFSA. You’ll have to show the plan administrator documentation to prove that the travel is healthcare-related.
- Automobile modifications: (HCFSA) If you have an LMN stating that you need to modify your vehicle because of a disability, this is an FSA eligible expense.
- Breast pump: (HCFSA) Many working mothers can’t breastfeed without a breast pump, so this is a covered expense. Many other breastfeeding products are eligible for FSA reimbursement too, including:
- Breast milk storage bags.
- Breast milk bottles.
- Absorbent breast pads.
- Breastfeeding classes.
- Breast pump bustier.
Other eligible expenses
- Adult day care: (DCFSA) If the expenses incurred are work-related, and the adult has a medical or mental health condition that limits their self-care capability, it is DCFSA eligible.
- Books: (HCFSA) If your doctor recommends that you read a health-related book (and he or she is willing to give you an LMN), then you can charge that expense to your FSA.
- Braille books: (HCFSA) Your flexible spending account (FSA) will reimburse the difference between the price of the braille book and the same book in non-braille form.
- Breast implant removal: (HCFSA) If the implants are causing you health problems and you have an LMN, your FSA will reimburse you for this.
- Personal trainer: (HCFSA) If you have diabetes or extreme obesity, your payments to your personal trainer can be FSA eligible with an LMN.
- Gym membership: (HCFSA) The requirements for your health club fees are basically the same as the personal trainer requirements.
Always refer to your FSA documentation to see what expenses are eligible on your plan. But you may be surprised to find out what is available. Have you been using or do you need any of the products or services described above? If you’ve been paying for them with non-FSA dollars, you can use your FSA account instead. That will help you use up your FSA funds so that they don’t go to waste.
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