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Flex-Ed: FSAs for the young and healthy

Living Well

Think flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are only for families or with recurring health needs? You might want to reconsider. Even if you're young, single and healthy, these tax-free accounts could still save you big, assuming you avoid these common FSA missteps.

Read on for a rundown of why an FSA still makes sense for anyone, even if you're the model of perfect health.

Preventive care

Sure, you're healthy. You exercise every day. Well, almost every day. But you eat right. Well, most of the time, anyway. And you're completely free of stress. Well, except on Mondays, Tuesdays and occasional Thursdays.

Jokes aside, even if you don't have health issues, it's never too early to keep up on your preventive care. Not to be alarmists but 7 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are a result of preventable, chronic diseases that go undetected early.

Health professionals find that screenings and regular checkups can increase life expectancy, especially among those ages 30-49. That's why it's important to take preventive care seriously, even if you are otherwise young and healthy.

Luckily, an FSA makes taking control of your health that much easier, since vaccinations, lab tests, screenings for diseases like diabetes, breast cancer, HPV, and even DNA testing are all eligible for coverage.

Fitness costs

Now that we've reminded you to work out more, you'll be happy to know several common fitness-related costs are FSA-eligible.

Items like blood pressure trackers and shoe inserts are FSA-eligible. Gym memberships may also be covered, as long as a medical professional determines it's necessary to maintaining and improving your health. This will probably require a letter of medical necessity (LMN) so be sure to get one before submitting reimbursement claims.

Self-care

Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years. In a nutshell, it covers just about anything you to do treat yourself right. It's also about knowing when you're burning out, and when to take a step back to refocus and rejuvenate.

(It's kind of like "the golden rule" in reverse.)

The good news is that many aspects of self-care now fall under the FSA umbrella. Skin care visits with a dermatologist, light therapy, even Botox (if it's given as a treatment for a medical issue) are all eligible for coverage. And more exotic therapies like acupuncture and massage are also FSA-eligible with a LMN.

And when considering your self-care, don't forget about your financial health. Even if you haven't used a Band-Aid or knee brace since that junior high ski trip, think of an FSA as a tax-free bonus for things you may need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

(And it never hurts to have some ibuprofen and stomach meds on hand, in case one of those rare "unhealthy diet" days comes back to haunt you.)

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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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