That's Eligible?! Our first look at handling the fall cold and flu season
Okay, maybe the title was a little misleading -- for many people, cold and flu season is already here (or never went away). But for a lot of people, the fall is when symptoms start to pop up, with all sorts of new irritants to deal with, along with chillier weather. Thankfully, there's plenty your FSA can do to help get ahead of seasonal suffering.
It might seem a little early to discuss this (especially when the weather is still so warm). But those calendar pages can turn quickly. So, while it's easy to just say, "I'll refill my cold remedies and pain relievers when the season hits" it's always a good idea to be prepared -- especially if you're prone to these symptoms each year. Medications are perfectly good uses of your tax-free funds, there are plenty of ways to stay on top of cold and flu concerns with this money.
The "obvious" options
Those quotation marks are intentional. It's never good to assume things are "obvious" to everyone. And it's always good to remind FSA holders that commonly purchased cold remedies, alongside things like thermometers and humidifiers, are all eligible. This includes OTC medications, which as of March 2020, are fully FSA-eligible with no prescriptions required.
Another "obvious" way to spend FSA dollars is by getting an annual flu shot. If you haven't already received the shot this year, go get that done -- we'll be here when you get back. The flu shot is considered a means of prevention to keep you from contracting the latest strains of the virus, making it qualify for FSA eligibility.
Go see your doctor
It can be tempting to just try to ride out a cold or even the flu. You don't feel that bad and think maybe a day or two of rest and lots of soup will do the trick. Or worse, you go ahead and decide to try to "plow through" the illness and carry on your usual activities from work to errands possibly spreading your bug around.
The costs and time needed for doctors' visits usual keep people from going for a simple cold or flu. Even if you have good coverage, the copays and other out-of-pocket costs are still a deterrent. With an FSA your copays and exams are all FSA-eligible.
We should also mention that a trip to the doctor is a good idea, even if you don't have cold and flu symptoms. Proactive, preventive checkups can go a long way toward keeping you healthy throughout the winter, so you can breathe a little easier - literally and figuratively.
It's just that easy?
FSAs are amazing, but they're not magic wands. Ideally, you'll get through the fall and winter with plenty of fresh air and restful sleep. And maybe you'll have a little good luck and not run into anyone coughing and sneezing right nearby. But it's good to know you have your FSA handy for when you (likely) do.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.