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Flex-Ed: "F-S-What?" Spreading the word about FSAs

Basics

Did I take a writer/content creator job at FSAstore.com without knowing what an "FSA" was? Hard yes. "But Kevin, why? You were just writing about cars and beers and the power of a good henley shirt a second ago!" I was and for the most part, it wasn't a great experience.

Then I ran into FSAstore.com which then led me to research what exactly "flex spending" was. When I asked my friends if they knew, about 9 out of 10 gave me a resounding, "Nope."

I'm about as quintessential of a millennial as there can be (I order grilled cheese from an app, I graduated during the recession and I'm extremely confused about my health benefits). But there was so much no-brainer, money-saving info here that… I really should have known about it. MORE people should.

So why don't we? For some good karma, I decided to try and help this brand reinvent itself, attract a younger audience and give it a better chance at doing its mission:

  • Help people get healthy, for less. \ (•◡•) /.
  • With a flexible spending account (FSA) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

After working in FSAstore.com's creative team for a year, here's what I think could be done better in this very niche industry to help both current and prospective users understand everything flex spending. (Hey! That's our new tagline!).

Observation #1: FSAs exist. And they can be pretty low-key. Make it not that.

The option to sign up for a flexible spending account seems so uneventful considering how much it says it can help people save on everyday health needs. It's BURIED inside the already overwhelming task of signing up for health benefits in general, a time where you really have so much to consider.

If FSAs can really have that much effect on people's finances (especially those who have ongoing issues like allergies, muscle disorders, etc.), we really should be showcasing and thinking about them with as much brain power as we would with dental, vision and even your 401(k).

MAKE THEM A BIGGER DEAL.

On the opposite end is that I was told around $400 million in FSA money gets forfeited every year. $400 million! I feel like that's enough to get bombarded by tax-season-esque commercials don't you think? Why are people forgetting that much of their hard-earned money and why aren't we surrounded by major messaging about this on all platforms.

(Also, plug: we have FSA deadline reminders.)

Observation #2: LOTS of people rely on the savings but few know how it all works. Be that change.

It's not a secret that healthcare in the U.S. is like being in a corn maze but it's haunted and it's also at night and you're also being chased by a dragon (made of bills). And navigating a flexible spending account is, a lot of times, kind of like that.

Did you know that if you buy an over-the-counter medicine like Advil or Benadryl with your FSA, you need a prescription? Did you also know that the IRS set that rule and EVERY flex spending rule out there? How about the fact that select sunscreen are FSA-eligible?

That's a lot of people's money and health on the line just with those questions alone. So why isn't info like this more accessible and approachable to more?

With so many platforms available, every company involved with them could do more to make info available and palatable (including us). I mean why aren't there more podcasts about this where someone in human terms says "acupressure mats are eligible!" (Hint: we have one now. You're welcome).

Maybe regular tweets that say, "Sunscreen that's broad-spectrum and SPF15+ is eligible." Simple, to the point, made for the platform. Done.

Observation #3: Thousands of FSA-eligible products, many different lifestyles. So spread the word, farther.

From what I've seen of FSA marketing, it's a whole lot of, "It's not just for Band-Aids! HaHaHAHA." Riveting! But seriously, there are thousands of FSA-eligible products out there from baby care products, pain relief essentials even vacation stuff. Now think about all the different types of people those could help.

A flexible spending account's audience is basically everyone. KT Tape, athletic braces and more are eligible. That's your fitness crowd. Breast pumps, prenatal vitamins and others are eligible. There you go new parents! Acupressure mats, relaxation masks, TENS units, are all eligible. There's your wellness group. And that's just scratching the surface! So go granular, because you can.

So, after a year working in the creative team at FSA Store, we hope we made things even a tiny bit easier for people to learn about another way they can save on their everyday health. Feel free to let us know what else we could be doing to make your flex spending life easier!

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New to FSAs? Need a refresher course in all things flex spending? Our weekly Flex-Ed column gives you a weekly dose of FSA Living 101, offering tips for making the most of your tax-free funds. Look for it every Thursday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center.

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