Health

FSA Friday with Sean - 2/2/18 - FDA-approved, at-home hearing tests are here!

While we're already into the second month of 2018, it's still 2017 for FSA users who have grace period extensions. And those who have until March 15 to use their remaining funds might be glad they waited, because we're growing our inventory and adding new hi-tech healthcare products along the way.

One of our newest additions is getting some serious attention from industry media -- the iHear Home Hearing Test Kit. This is the first at-home hearing test kit to be approved by the FDA. And yes, it's FSA-eligible!

iHear pairs with FSAstore.com on FDA-cleared home hearing screener - Michael Johnsen, Drug Store News

Let's start with a little background. In 2017, new legislation introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for the creation of a new category of hearing aid devices that could be sold over-the-counter, according to Consumer Reports.

Before this legislation, hearing aids were only available for purchase with a prescription. Now, those who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss have easily accessible options for hearing devices.

iHear was an early pioneer in this space; it developed an over-the-counter hearing aid option the instant that legislation was signed into law, reports reports Drug Store News. The introduction of the iHear Home represents the company's next step in providing affordable hearing solutions for consumers.

Bringing aboard a new, hi-tech health device is always exciting for our customers, so be sure to check back often to see what other great new products you might want as we approach the grace period deadline.

And, as always, for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Health

FSA Friday with Sean - 1/12/18 - Let your FSA help you fight off the flu

Happy Friday, everyone! We're only two weeks into 2018, and the new year is already newsworthy -- most notably with the cold weather, which brought snow to sunny Florida, and record-setting low temperatures to most of the nation. Of course, that has us thinking about the flu.

Well, we're not the only ones talking about it. According to some recent headlines, cold and flu season is a major concern for people of all ages this year, which brings us to our first headline this week:

CDC- 2017/2018 flu season strongest since 2009 - Drug Store News - 1/8/18

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, 5.8% of patient visits reported were due to flu-like illnesses. This is well above rates recorded for the 2016-2017 flu season, and nearly matches the height of illness frequency recorded across the 2014-2015 flu season.

What's more concerning is that indications suggest we haven't seen the peak of this year's season, yet. There are plenty of easy ways to avoid getting the flu, and the flu shot remains one of the most effective. Which is why the next headline is so noteworthy…

Less than half of college students receive the flu shot - Drug Store News - 12/15/17

According to this article, though most college students in the U.S. believe it is important to get an annual influenza vaccine, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated, according to a new National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, released earlier this month.

College students are at particularly high risk of getting and spreading flu because of frequent exposure to high-traffic areas. On that note, another common source of cold and flu exposure comes from the office, which is why we want to share one more headline.

How to prepare your workforce for flu season - Employee Benefit News - 12/28/17

According to this article, employees miss an average of five workdays per year due to the flu, at a cost of about $200 per person for each lost day. That means for a workforce of 250 employees, flu season could cost $250,000 in missed work days every year. This piece takes a closer look at the benefits of protecting your staff -- and yourself -- against this nasty flu season.

If you're seeking FSA-eligible cold and flu relief, look no further than our growing selection of products. And, for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Health

6 tips to fine tune your workout routine for 2018

As the New Year begins, one common resolution is to get back into shape for the coming year. But as you know, most people give up their resolutions because they're difficult, and because of pain that comes from improper workout form. Before you hit the gym consider the following tips to have safe workouts in 2018.

1. Build your butt to boost squats

This might sound silly, but poor control of your gluteus maximus (your buttock muscles) can leave you susceptible to injury during workouts like squats.

If the gluteus is weak, your hip extension will be as well, and your spine might have to overcompensate, leading to strains. If you do squats, monitor yourself during the lowering motion and be sure you don't tip forward. You may want to spend a few weeks of specific gluteus strengthening before going into a squat workout.

One exercise that can help strengthen your gluteus is the prone hip extension. To do these, simply lie down and squeeze your buttocks, then lift one leg to perform a hip extension. Do three sets of 10, three times a week. And if possible, it never hurts to have a trainer watch your form.

On a side note, getting back and hip pain is normal during any new workout. If you're noticing some discomfort in your back and sides during these targeted sessions, ask a medical professional if a drug-free pain relief device like the FSA-eligible TENS therapy is right for you.

2. Never ignore your knees

When performing lunges, step-ups, squats or other cardio, a common mistake is allowing the knees to "roll in," allowing the knees to move forward past your toes. This puts pressure at the joint line, meniscus, and knee caps, among other body parts.

When lunging, keep knees in line with your ankles and inner toes. Imagine a glass wall coming up from your toes to help you keep your knee from moving too far forward, or consider using a knee brace or support to help maintain good form.

3. Harness your hips

Tight hip muscles can lead to injuries as well. During activities that require a lot of bending, like yoga poses and squats, a tight hip flexor will fire to help you balance especially if the glutes are weak. This overactivation can lead to stiff, painful muscles.

Tight hips can also pull at your spine creating excessive arching which can contribute to back and hip issues. Be sure to stretch your hip flexors and strengthen glutes.

4. Brace that back

During certain core workouts be careful to mind how far you arch the back. Many people think they're addressing their core, but poor form can leave them at risk of injuring it instead. A common mistake seen in the gym is arching or dropping of the back during the bird dog exercise (a position in which you're on all fours, alternately lifting an arm and the opposite leg).

Be sure to hold your spine straight, changing how high you kick your leg to avoid hyper-extending the back or rotating the hips. One helpful idea might be to brace your belly button towards your spine when performing the motion.

Core workouts can strain on your back, so consider picking up a flexible but supportive back brace to alleviate pain and strains.

5. Push those pecs

The chest muscles in the front have been shown to inhibit your upper back muscles. This prevents them from firing properly during your upper body workouts. It can contribute to unwanted motions such as shrugging shoulders while lifting which can lead to shoulder and neck issues.

A gentle stretch of the pecs for even one minute a day can help address these muscles and help prevent a slouching posture. But if your upper body workouts are a work in progress, consider an preventive support belt to keep your body position aligned.

6. Pace yourself!

It's important to build up gradually. Experts say that you should increase your activity (distance, intensity, weights) by no more than 10% per week.

Example: If you want to run 10 miles per week, increase it by one mile the next week. If you're currently lifting 20 pounds, try to increase by two pounds the following week, then modify accordingly. And as always -- be sure to warm up before any workout!

Finally, pay attention to your body. If you're experiencing pain, see a qualified medical professional, and decide if FSA-eligible physical therapy relief products will help your routine.

Health

FSA Friday with Sean - 12/22/17 - Holiday gifts for your health, and the FSA deadline

It's the holiday edition of FSA Friday, and we hope you're reading this while preparing for a wonderful, safe, healthy weekend with friends and family!

With the excitement of the holiday season in full swing, it's important to remember there is another big shopping rush coming, as FSA users spend down their remaining funds before the end of the year.

Instead of a news roundup this week, we're putting the spotlight on a few FSA-eligible products we've fallen in love with in 2017, in case you want some buying inspiration before for the 12/31 deadline!

Eustachi Ear Unclogger

You know how you're really not supposed to use cotton swabs to clean your ears? Here's the perfect alternative. The Eustachi Ear Unclogger is an amazing device that uses the body's natural movements to clear your ears of wax. You simply place the device under a nostril and it will lightly blow air through your nasal passages, and while swallowing and yawning normally, this will expel wax from your ears. It sounds like magic, but it works!

Caring Mill™ Icy Gel Cold Pack

Every home should have an ice pack at the ready for joint sprains, bruises and pulled muscles, so if you're looking for a new one this year, go with our favorite option, Caring Mill! This ice pack comes with straps and Velcro closures, so it can be applied long-term to sensitive areas. Plus, each purchase of Caring Mill products will result in a donation to Save the Children. Talk about win-win!

Adventure Medical Kits

Have you ever wanted a first aid kit that could do more than just sit on the shelf and collect dust? One of our favorite vendors is Adventure Medical Kits. Whether you need something for world travel, something waterproof for camping or boating, or something small to put in your hiking pack, these kits are the perfect choice.

MyPurMist Handheld Steam Inhaler

This was a lifesaver during the early fall when our whole office came down with colds, and it has become one of our most popular drug-free nasal relief devices. Like breathing easy after a hot shower, steam inhalers deliver humidity to dry, inflamed nasal passages to reduce pain, clear mucus, and help you breathe easier during the worst days of cold and flu season.

But, let's not end this post talking about mucus. From all of us at FSAstore.com/HSAstore.com, thank you for a fantastic year, and best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday!

(And to read the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages … hopefully on that new laptop, smartphone or iPad.)

Taxes

FSA Deadline: Don't let your funds become an unintentional charity

The holidays are a time for giving, and for many people part of that giving spirit is contributing to a charity (or charities) of choice. And that's awesome.

But one place where you want to avoid being "too giving" is with your FSA account. Not only can't you use FSA funds to gift products or services to others (your FSA can only be used on you or your qualifying dependents), but your unspent FSA money doesn't go to a deserving charity -- it's used for an entirely different purpose.

What happens if you don't spend FSA funds?

Unlike HSAs, FSA funds don't rollover from year-to-year and are instead subject to what is typically called the "use it or lose it" rule.

That money doesn't just disappear. Whatever funds are unused go back to your employer. Now, to be fair, employers don't necessarily want the money back - the IRS requires they get it back. In these situations, it's used to balance losses that happen when employees overspend their accounts and then leave a company. This money helps the company offset the loss.

It's certainly a good use of money for the company, but there are no direct benefits to you. Ask yourself this: Would you donate your paycheck for your company's other financial gaps? Unless the answer is "yes" it's time to start putting your FSA money toward better things.

What to do? Get to spending!

If your plan has a December 31 spending deadline, guess what? That's just weeks away, so take a look at your FSA account. If you have funds remaining, FSAStore.com has ways you can make sure you're not losing out on the opportunity to spend wisely.

If you're not sure where to start to zero out that FSA account before the deadline, here are a few out-of-the-box ideas:

The key takeaway is to remember that FSA funds are yours -- and there are a ton of uses you might not have even considered. If you are at risk of losing your FSA funds by December 31, browse through our growing list of more than 4,000 eligible items for your health and wellness.

In the end, make sure that zero balance in your account at the end of the year is because you spent every penny you contributed, and not because you missed out on a fantastic opportunity.

Health

6 FSA-eligible stocking stuffers for your health

Holiday shopping probably has you worn out. We get it -- fighting crowds and hunting online to find gifts for others can get a little intense. But what about getting something for yourself? Something you want … something you need … something no one else will think to buy?

This year, give yourself the gift of health with these six last-minute FSA-eligible ideas:

1) Holiday warmth with heat wraps

Take care of your inner weekend warrior by soothing achy muscles with heat wraps for the neck, lower back, arms and legs. Studies show tendons and ligaments have a limited blood supply, so they don't heal as quickly. Heat can help increase blood flow which in turn brings nutrient-rich blood to ligaments, tendons and tight muscles, helping them heal.

2) Merry Kiss-mas!

Soothe chapped lips and protect them from the drying effects of wind and cold during these winter months with FSA-eligible lip balm with SPF. For added protection from the sun our eligible lip protectants come with an SPF of 15 or more, which is especially helpful if you like to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors skiing!

3) Wrap them up with kinesio-tape

Bows and ribbons aren't the only things wrapped this holiday season! Products like KT Tape have been shown to be effective in treatment of strained muscles and tendons. Many physical therapists incorporate the use of kinesio tape in the treatment of tendonitis, muscle strains, and sciatica. This stretchy tape comes in several bright colors, and has countless uses.

4) Start the year off on a good foot

Tight feet and ankle musculature can create stress at your knees and hips when you walk. Using a foot roller can help massage tightened soft tissue in your feet helping them become more flexible.

Foot rollers can also provide some relief to achy tired feet, heel pain and conditions like plantar fasciitis. Rollers are easily portable and can be left under a desk or near a bed.

5) No tears this season – except for fake ones!

Dry eye is a condition that affects many people. Eye experts recommend lubricating drops to help relieve dry, gritty, itchy eyes that occur from this condition. Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including: medications, certain medical conditions, environmental factors and age.

If your family has had an eye specialist recommend lubricating drops, why not stuff a few in the stocking?

6) Give bugs the "bah humbug" this holiday with bug spray!

If your friends and family like to enjoy long hikes in the woods, bug spray with SPF may be a nice item to stuff their stockings! Certain bug sprays can help repel mosquitos and disease- carrying ticks.

The CDC recommends bathing or showering within two hours after coming indoors to wash off and spot ticks that may be crawling on you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror after being in potentially tick infested areas, like trails, tall grass, or any shady, damp area. They also recommend you examine backpacks, clothes and pets since ticks can jump off and attach to a person later.

References:

Eligibility

5 FSA-eligible products for your next business trip

If you ask most business travelers, they will tell you that they have a love/hate relationship with the practice. While it's certainly exciting to see and experience new places, the daily grind of flying and an ever-changing slate of hotel rooms can weigh on even the most savvy business traveler.

So if you had a way to improve your comfort level, avoid chronic pain issues and maintain your overall wellness during travel, you wouldn't turn it down, right? Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit covers a huge range of eligible products that will do just that. Here's how to use FSA money to boost your overall health during your next business trip.

  1. Orthopedic Neck Pillow

If you experience chronic pain issues from sleeping in an upright position, you may experience additional pain throughout your business trip. An orthopedic neck pillow can contour to the neck and shoulders, and can be used in conjunction with traditional pillows to provide a comfortable sleep position that alleviates pain.

Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support

  1. Acupressure Mat

Tackling pain on the road is tough, but instead of constantly resorting to over-the-counter pain relievers, acupressure mats may be the perfect solution. Acupressure mats target specific pressure points in the user's back, neck and shoulders to alleviate pain in various parts of the body. These mats are used to treat back/neck/shoulder pain, fibromyalgia pain and even migraines. Best of all, they are compact and can be stored in a suitcase with ease.

Check Out: Kenko Acupressure Mat for Back/Neck Pain, Emerald

  1. Pain Relief Eye Mask

In addition to helping to block out light to help you sleep, pain relief eye masks are great options for business travelers who experience migraines, sinus pain or wake up with puffy eyes. After a short time in the refrigerator, these masks can provide cooling relief to fight pain and inflammation so you can wake up feeling your best.

Check Out: IMAK Eye Mask, Pain Relief

  1. Sun Protection with Daily Moisturizer

Is your face feeling as refreshed as it could be before a major business excursion? Daily moisturizers are usually not FSA-eligible, but those that offer broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA as long as their primary purpose is sun protection. These products can help refresh the look of your skin and safeguard your skin from the harsh effects of UVA and UVB rays.

Check Out: MDSolarSciences Daily Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30, Travel Size

  1. Eyeglass Repair Kit

If you wear glasses, you know the nightmare of having your eyewear break while on the road. Luckily, a surprising number of eyeglass accessories are FSA eligible, from eyeglass repair kits to cleaning wipes to cleaning sprays. Prepare ahead of time for these emergencies to give you confidence on your business trip!

Check Out: Flents Eyeglass Repair Kit

Pregnancy

Breastfeeding 101: A Buying Guide to Shopping with Your FSA

Your FSA covers a huge range of qualifying breastfeeding kits, supplies and accessories, so there's no reason not to save on this important expense!

Got a bundle of joy on the way? In your scramble to prepare your home and every aspect of your life for your new baby, one of the most important decisions you'll make as a new mother is whether or not to breastfeed.

Today, the medical community resoundingly endorses breastfeeding, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development attests that breastfeeding has many known health benefits, including, "nutritionally balanced meals, some protection against common childhood infections, and better survival during the first year of life, including a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)."

If you do decide to breastfeed, preparing is made easier if you are enrolled in a flexible spending account (FSA)! Your FSA covers a huge range of qualifying breastfeeding kits, supplies and accessories, so there's no reason not to save on this important expense!

We've created a breastfeeding buying guide just for you so you'll have everything you need to get started off right!

Breastfeeding Kits

For a one-size-fits-all solution that includes a breast pump, carrying case and all necessary accessories, this is a great starting point for moms to set up their breastfeeding regimen.

Medela Freestyle Solution Set

Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack Solution Set, 1 ea

EnJoye-LBI™ Breast Pump with Deluxe Tote Set Black & Personal Accessory Set

Purely Yours Electric Breast Pump with 2 Bottle Kit

Breast Pumps

Breastfeeding moms who plan to return to work or who will be away from their baby for any period of time will need a back-up supply of milk. Breast pumps are used to extract milk so it can be fed to the baby or stored for later use. There are both manual and electric pump options and you'll want to purchase a pump that you're most comfortable with.

Manual Breast Pumps

Medela Harmony™ Manual Breast Pump

Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump

Ameda One Hand Manual Breast Pump

NUK® Expressive® Manual Breast Pump

AVENT Manual Comfort Breast Pump; Core

Electric Breast Pumps

Ameda Purely Yours Electric Double Breast Pump

The First Years Quiet Expressions Double Electric Breast Pump

Freemie® Freedom Electric Breast Pump with Hands-Free Concealable Cups

NUK® Expressive® Double Electric Breast Pump

Evenflo Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump with Bag

Lansinoh Signature Pro Double Electric Breast Pump

Storage Bottles/Accessories

Whether at home or on the go, breastfeeding storage bottles and bags are the easiest option to properly store and conserve breast milk for later use.

Medela Breast Milk Storage Solution

Milkies Freeze Storage

Medela 80 mL Breast Milk Freezing & Storage, 12 pack

NUK® Seal 'N Go® Breast Milk Storage Bags, 50 ea

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, 100 ct.

Kiinde Storage Twist Pouch 6 oz, 40 ct

Nursing Pads

Breastfeeding supply adjusts based on the demands of your baby, some of whom can require feeding between 8-12 times per day, reports WebMD. This can cause your milk to leak at unexpected times, so nursing pads are often needed. These pads are available in a variety of styles and are worn underneath the bra to help keep you dry.

Bamboobies Nursing Pads, Multipack

Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads, 36 ea

NUK® Reusable Nursing Pads, 8 pack

Medela 100% Cotton Washable Nursing Bra Pads, 4 ea

Breast/Nipple Shields

A breast/nipple shield is a device that is typically made from silicone with a hole in the center that is placed over the nipple during breastfeeding to allow milk to pass through to prevent post-feeding irritation.

Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields

Medela Contact Nipple Shield, 24 mm

Cara Breast Shield, 11 Size

NUK® Barely There Nipple Shield With Case, Silicone

Cleaning Wipes

Breast pumps and accessories are susceptible to bacteria and mold growth if they are not cleaned regularly, which is why cleaning wipes and solutions are a great investment to prolong the service life of your pump. Cleaning wipes also make it easier if you're pumping on the go or at work.

Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump & Accessory Wipes, 24 ea

This buying guide just scratches the surface of what your FSA can cover, so find out how far your benefit will go at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products

Sources:

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/Pages/benefits.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/establish-a-breastfeeding-schedule#1