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

Eligibility

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

Accounts

What is an FSA "run-out" period?

During the early part of the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan year, you will hear plenty of terms being thrown around like "grace period" or "rollover," but one term that is constantly misunderstood is the FSA "run-out" period. This is a standard account feature that is built into the structure of most flexible spending accounts (FSAs), but it can often be confused with the FSA grace period because it is so similar. So what's the deal with the FSA "run-out" period? Let's find out.

"Run-Out" Periods

An FSA "run-out" period refers to the period of time in the new plan year during which account holders can file claims for expenses incurred during the previous plan year. This timeframe is chosen by the employer, not the IRS, and can last for any period of time, but the most common FSA "run-out" period is 90 days. For instance, if your FSA plan year ends on December 31 and you have a 90 day run out period, you would have until March 31 of the following year to submit claims for reimbursement.

What is the difference between the FSA grace and "run-out" periods?

A common source of confusion for FSA users is the difference between the FSA grace period and "run-out" period. Unlike the "run-out" period, the grace period is an option chosen by the employer, which gives FSA users 2.5 months after the end of the plan year to spend their remaining FSA funds.

The key difference is that with a grace period, new products/services can be purchased with prior funds into the new plan year, but with the run-out period, only expenses that were incurred during the prior plan year are eligible in the near year. FSAs can offer both the grace period and run-out, neither, one or the other, or even another option in which remaining funds up to $500 rollover to the following year, but this is left up to the FSA plan sponsor to choose. Always check with your FSA plan sponsor to find out which rules apply to your plan!

Looking ahead to March deadlines

With all of that confusion out of the way, March is poised to be a pivotal month for FSA users. If you have the FSA grace period and your FSA plan year ended December 31, 2016, you have until March 15, 2017 to make purchases with 2016 funds, while those with the 90 day "run-out" period have until March 31, 2017 to file claims for expenses incurred during 2016.

So don't wait - learn about the most important deadlines on your account and spend down your FSA funds at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to support the continued good health and wellness of you and your dependents.

Basics

Why Do I Need a Letter of Medical Necessity?

by Donna Crisalli, FSAstore.com Technical Advisor

To be reimbursable from an FSA or HSA, an expense must be for medical care. Some items or services may be for medical care or may be for personal use. To tell the difference, plan administrators often request a “letter of medical necessity," or LMN.

An expense is for medical care if the primary purpose for the expense is to treat, cure, mitigate, diagnose, or prevent a disease or illness, or to affect a structure or function of the body. Items and services that usually are personal, such as air conditioners, may be used for medical purposes, for example to reduce the symptoms of asthma. Other items and services, such as vitamins and exercise equipment, usually are used to maintain general good health, which is not medical care eligible for reimbursement, but may be used to treat or mitigate a disease, such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or obesity.

An item or service is reimbursable as medical care only if an individual's primary purpose for the expense fits within the definition of medical care. Because a plan administrator is unable to look into someone's mind, the plan administrator will look at certain objective facts and circumstances to determine an individual's purpose. These include:

(1) Has a doctor or other medical professional determined that the individual (or a qualifying family member) has a disease or illness?

(2) Has a medical professional recommended the item or service to treat, mitigate, etc., the medical condition?

(3) Is the item or service medically effective?

(4) How soon did the individual purchase the item or service after the diagnosis of the medical condition?

(5) Are there less expensive treatments?

These questions don't need to be asked if the item or service has no use other than medical care (for example, x-rays and other diagnostic tests, supplies and equipment such as bandages and wheelchairs). These facts are relevant only when an item has a non-medical use. They are guidelines for a plan administrator to determine if a personal use item is medical care, based on all the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

There is no set requirement that every one of the facts and circumstances is present in every case. However, it always will be necessary to determine that a medical condition is present and that the item or service is for the treatment or improvement of the medical condition. The letter of medical necessity provides the plan administrator with at least this information. (The term “letter of medical necessity" is misleading because there is no requirement that the treatment is necessary if it is for medical care. It is the shorthand plan administrators use for a letter from a health provider providing this basic information.)

However, a letter from a doctor or other health care practitioner stating that there is a medical condition and prescribing the item or service may not provide all the information a plan administrator may need. First, the medical use has to be the primary purpose for the expense. Second, the expense is not reimbursable if the individual would have purchased it anyway (would not have purchased it without the medical condition, a requirement called the “but for" test). The plan administrator may ask for information relating to some or all of the other facts and circumstances to determine if the medical use is the primary purpose for the expense and whether the “but for" test is satisfied.

Let's apply these rules to some concrete examples.

Jack's doctor diagnoses Jack with a heart condition. The doctor recommends light exercise, such as brisk walking, to lessen the symptoms and reduce the risk of a heart attack. The next day Jack buys a $500 pair of athletic shoes and begins walking a mile every day. Jack has never walked for exercise or owned athletic shoes. Jack has a medical condition that the shoes will help, he buys the shoes right away, and he has never owned this type of shoes before. Jack did not buy the cheapest shoes available, but the rest of the facts and circumstances show that his primary purpose in buying the shoes is to help his heart condition and he would not have bought them “but for" the medical condition. Jack may be reimbursed for the athletic shoes from his FSA.

Jill has high blood pressure. Her doctor suggests she buy a blood pressure monitor. Jill buys a smart watch, which has a blood pressure monitoring function. Jill owns a smart watch but was thinking about upgrading it. After buying the new watch, she does not have to buy another blood pressure monitor. Jill has been using a smart watch, planned to buy one before the doctor made the recommendation, and chose an expensive device with many other functions besides monitoring blood pressure. Although Jill may use the watch for a medical purpose, the facts and circumstances show that the medical function is not Jill's primary purpose in buying the watch and she would have bought it or a similar watch even if she did not have the medical condition. The smart watch is not eligible for reimbursement.

James has emphysema. His doctor recommends light exercise, but James also has severe arthritis and is unable to walk for exercise. He builds a simple lap pool in his yard and uses it only to swim laps, which he does most days. His family members also sometimes swim laps in the pool. James works long hours and lives in a remote area, and it is not convenient for him to go to a gym or other facility with a pool on a regular basis. James uses the pool for medical purposes, he built it only after receiving the doctor's advice, and he built the most basic pool for the purpose. There are reasons why he does not engage in another kind of exercise. Although his family members also sometimes use the pool, the facts and circumstances indicate that James's primary purpose in building the pool is to treat his emphysema and he would not have built the pool otherwise. James may use his HSA for the cost of the pool.

Jane has not had a medical condition and has been getting massage therapy once a month to reduce stress and improve her general good health. Jane's chiropractor diagnoses Jane with muscle strain from lifting a heavy object and suggests massage therapy might help the condition. At her next massage therapy appointment, Jane asks the therapist to focus on the strained muscles. Jane may have a medical purpose for this particular massage therapy appointment, but the facts and circumstances indicate that the medical purpose is not her primary purpose and she would have had the massage therapy even without the medical issue. Jane is not entitled to reimbursement for the massage therapy.

In each of these situations, a LMN would tell the plan administrator that there is a medical purpose for the athletic shoes, the smart watch, the swimming pool, and the massage therapy, which usually are personal and not medical expenses. The plan administrator would need to know more of the facts and circumstances, however, to determine whether the medical purpose is the primary purpose and if the “but for" test is satisfied. This additional information may be included in what the plan administrator calls a “letter of medical necessity" or the plan administrator may request it separately.

These rules may seem very complicated, but when the answer to the question “is this an expense for medical care" depends on the facts and circumstances, there is no simple answer that applies in every case.

Eligibility

What OTC pain reliever should I use?

Whether it's a headache, muscle ache or another form of acute or chronic pain, when discomfort arises most of us will reach for the nearest pain reliever without giving much thought to which one we're taking. In reality, the most common over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers have varying chemical compositions and while they may all have the singular goal of alleviating pain, they attack pain in differing ways and may have their own set of potential drawbacks.

OTC pain relievers are FSA/HSA eligible with a prescription from a doctor, so before you make your next purchase, make sure you are an informed consumer! Here are the most common pain relievers on the market and an explanation of how their active ingredients combat your worst pain symptoms. And, of course, always consult your doctor first before using a medication regularly!

  1. Acetaminophen

Brand Names: Tylenol

Designed to Treat: Headaches, Pain, Fever

Recommended Dosage and Side Effects: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that individuals should only take 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day, while clinicians recommend a daily maximum dose of 3,000 mg for extended periods of time. Acetaminophen has potential for liver damage, but only if taken with other OTC medications that also contain acetaminophen. Those with severe liver disease should avoid taking acetaminophen.

What to Know: Acetaminophen is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and is a unique pain reliever in that it has anti-inflammatory qualities that could help combat fevers, so it is one of the most popular fever reducers on the market. Acetaminophen is a COX-2 Inhibitor, which means itworks by inhibiting the synthesis of chemical messengers called prostaglandins, which help to transmit pain signals and induce fever. The body produces prostaglandins in response to an injury or illness.

  1. Ibuprofen

Brand Names: Advil, Midol, Motrin

Designed to Treat: Arthritis pain, joint pain and headaches

Recommended Dosage and Side Effects: Adults should aim for 200 to 400 mg every 4-6 hours as needed to treat a wide variety of ailments, according to Drugs.com. The maximum daily allowance of OTC ibuprofen should be capped at 1200 mg/day. Ibuprofen carries a risk of side effects including stomach bleeding and kidney damage in those 60 years and older.

What to Know: Much like acetaminophen, ibuprofen is a COX-2 Inhibitor that relieves pain by targeting prostaglandins, which help to transmit pain signals arising from headaches, arthritis pain, joint pain, menstrual pain and more. As a NSAID, ibuprofen has proven anti-inflammatory qualities, and it also has a unique antiplatelet (anti-blood clotting) effect, though not as effective as aspirin.

  1. Aspirin

Brand Names: Bayer, Excedrin

Designed to Treat: Headaches, inflammatory pain and can support heart health

Recommended Daily Dosage and Side Effects: To treat pain-related maladies, the recommended adult dosage for aspirin is between 325 to 650 mg every four hours, and no more than 4 grams of aspirin should be taken in a 24 hour period, reports Drugs.com.

What to Know: Aspirin is among the most common pain relievers on the market to treat everything from headaches to chronic pain issues. As a COX-2 Inhibitor, it works in the same way as ibuprofen and acetaminophen by blocking pain signals from the brain, and it also is commonly used as a blood thinner. In addition to its role in relief of everyday pain maladies, aspirin can also be used for therapeutic use. A low-dose aspirin regimen (75 mgs per day)has been known to help prevent blood clots in patients who have experienced a recent coronary bypass operation, heart attack, stroke or Atrial fibrillation.

For everything you need to keep you and your loved ones healthy year-round, visit FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products on the web to help you maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits.

Living Well

Take the time to truly relax (and use your FSA to make it happen)

By a show of hands, how many of you have really taken time to rest and relax lately? Now, I don't mean sleeping all day, or binge-watching Netflix until you can recite "Stranger Things" in three languages. I'm talking about letting your mind and body "turn off the noise," and truly be at ease, whether you're out with friends or alone with a good book.

There's a good chance most of us have forgotten how to block out those distractions, even on the most uneventful weekends. Whether it's parenting, work, financial concerns, or other stressors, the hectic nature of modern life keeps our brains working long after we've clocked out for the day.

It's time to give yourself permission to rest, relax and recharge. Below, we've highlighted a few ways (and a few products) to help you on the path to helping yourself achieve genuine relaxation, so you're ready for it even when life doesn't make it easy.

Set a leisurely pace, even when you're busy

It seems funny to begin a piece on relaxation with tips for the workplace, but people operate in cycles throughout the day, awake or asleep. These rhythms see us reaching peaks and valleys of energy and alertness, and also indicate when we need to take mental time-outs, to recharge our systems.

The problem is, most workplaces don't allow for much downtime, much less on an individual schedule. But, the more we can pay attention to these cycles, the more productive we'll be when alertness is a must.

According to productivity expert Tony Schwartz, when our bodies need to rest, they send out distinct signals, such as hunger, bouts of drowsiness, lack of focus and other distractions that can interfere with the average workday.

To counter these lapses, we can't rely on coffee to soldier through the downtimes. Instead, if possible, Schwartz recommends taking short breaks to reset focus, and regain clarity for the work that remains.

Relax your entire body

It's an unfortunate reality, but even when we think we're resting, we're not always addressing our entire body.

For some, trying alternative forms of treatment, such as yoga or acupuncture, could go a long way toward relieving some stressors you previously didn't know how to address.

Please keep in mind that both yoga and acupuncture are services that may be FSA-eligible with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) as provided by a medical professional (acupuncture may not require an LMN with some benefits administrators).

If these services are not covered by your FSA funds, then consider other ways to relax your body, such as acupressure mats and cushions, which are often covered without need for medical authorization. (Always check with your benefits administrator before purchasing, just to be sure.)

Don't just sleep a lot – sleep well

Let's face it, once Friday afternoon rolls around, your mind is probably focused on cramming in as much enjoyment as possible before Sunday evening. Which is fine, if that enjoyment allows your body to truly rest and revitalize itself.

But that doesn't happen too often. Happy hours, parties, concerts, sporting events, and the like are certainly fun, but these activities can be mentally and physically exhausting. And late nights out only interrupt restful sleep cycles.

We're not here to tell you not to go out from time to time. But, establishing a healthy sleep pattern is an ongoing process. One idea is to use your phone to set an alarm or reminder that indicates it's time to start your wind-down routine, or simply go straight to bed.

At first, you might feel strange being in bed so "early." But once you're curled up and comfortable, and wake up feeling altogether more rested, you'll probably wonder why you haven't tried this sooner.

In the long-term, we recommend establishing a reasonable bedtime, an appropriate waking hour, and allocating time in the morning to ease into a day with no rushing, urgency or distraction.

If you have trouble falling into a healthier sleep cycle, we recommend an FSA-eligible sleep mask. These devices can help block ambient light and other visual distractions from interfering with your rest time, as well as providing soothing aromatherapy to help you get to sleep faster.

And, if your doctor determines your sleep needs require medical attention, items such as melatonin or sleep-aid pills are FSA-eligible with a prescription.

We know it can be difficult to find balance between work, play and relaxation, but it's important to ensure work and play don't eliminate good rest from the equation. The best way to stay productive, alert and happy is to give your body the rest it needs, during your downtime and throughout the work week.