Living Well

The COVID-19 Baby Boom is coming. How your FSA can help new moms get ready

For all the more serious problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a simpler issue that just about everyone can relate to - boredom. Whether you've been hard quarantining since the start of lockdowns or spending more time out and about in the last few months, there just isn't as much to do in 2020.

Well, there is one thing.

Many experts are expecting a quarantine baby boom starting in December. If you're one of these expecting parents, you may be wondering how you're going to pay for all these new expenses. That's where an FSA can help.

Here's a detailed rundown of what new moms can - and can't - buy with their FSA, along with some tips on how to manage your account.

What is an FSA?

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a special savings account for qualified medical expenses. FSAs are only available through employers, so companies have to decide whether to offer FSAs. Workers cannot open an FSA on their own. Some employers will even match contributions to their employees' FSAs, but this isn't guaranteed. FSAs are not available to self-employed workers.

Employees have to decide during open enrollment if they want to open an FSA, along with how much to contribute. This can be either a dollar amount or a percentage of their salary. The money will then be taken directly out of their paychecks.

Once you've decided how much to contribute to your FSA, you can't change that amount until the next open enrollment or if you have a special qualifying event. That's why it's so important to choose an amount that fits your budget and your medical needs.

Like with HSAs, FSA contributions reduce your taxable income. Let's say you earn $50,000 a year and contribute $1,000 to your FSA. You would only be taxed on the $49,000 and not the $50,000 you earned. Obviously, higher contributions then lead to even lower taxable income.

How an FSA Can Help New Moms

Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant can save money on essential supplies by contributing to an FSA. Before you even get pregnant, you can use an FSA to buy fertility kits, pregnancy tests and sperm test kits.

Once you get pregnant, FSA funds can be used for a variety of prenatal expenses including:

  • OBGYN, primary care and other doctor's visits
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Prenatal tests, ultrasounds, DNA tests and bloodwork
  • Lamaze and childbirth classes
  • Baby movement monitors
  • Belly band or maternity belts

You can use FSA funds to pay for all medical child-birth related expenses, whether you choose to give birth in a hospital or have a home birth with a midwife.

After you've given birth, you can use an FSA to pay for:

  • Out-of-pocket childbirth costs
  • Lactation consultants
  • Breastfeeding classes
  • Breast pumps and accessories like nipple shields, bottles, storage bags, coolers, pumping bras and more
  • Baby thermometers
  • Baby sunscreen
  • Nose wipes
  • Nasal and ear cleaners and nasal aspirators
  • Nursing pads
  • In-home sleep training services

However, there are some common prenatal and postpartum expenses you can't use FSA money for. These include:

  • Maternity clothes
  • Diapers
  • Breastfeeding and maternity pillows
  • Baby clothes and accessories
  • Cloth and disposable diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Cribs and bassinets
  • Stroller
  • Baby-wearing wraps

How Much to Contribute to an FSA

In 2021, the projected annual limit for FSAs is $2,750 per person. If you and your spouse both have access to an FSA, you can each contribute $2,750 to your individual accounts.

FSAs are provided by your employer. Unlike HSAs, FSAs have a use-it-or-lose-it-policy. If you have money left over in an FSA at the end of the year, you would have to spend it down by the final day of the plan year or forfeit it back to your employer: Your employer has two additional options: to let you roll over a maximum of $550 into the following year or give you an extra 2.5 months to use the funds. Employers may choose to implement a rollover or a grace period, but cannot offer both. Ask your HR department what the company policy is.

This is why it's crucial not to save extra money in an FSA. Be conservative when deciding how much to contribute. It's better to outspend your FSA than to have hundreds left over and no eligible expenses. Also, you'll forfeit any money in your FSA if you leave your job.

Most people reach their health insurance deductible when giving birth, but you can also call your insurance provider and ask them how much childbirth will cost.

If your deductible is more than the FSA maximum limit, then it's safe to save the maximum FSA amount. For example, if your deductible is $6,000, then it's ok for you to contribute the FSA limit since you'll likely reach the deductible amount during your pregnancy.

If you've already had your open enrollment period and didn't select any FSA contributions, then it's too late to change that. However, you can opt to open an FSA when you give birth, because having a baby counts as a special qualifying event. Some (but not all) employers will allow you to make a mid-year election change in this circumstance, but as always it is best to check with your benefits administrator. You won't be able to use the FSA for any past medical events, but you can use it going forward.

If you're planning on getting pregnant, it may be worth signing up for an FSA just in case.

How to Pay for FSA-Eligible Expenses

You can pay for FSA expenses directly with an FSA debit card if you're given one. Some FSA providers don't issue debit cards and require that you pay for expenses out-of-pocket and submit those for reimbursement. You'll have to keep your receipts to prove that you bought FSA-eligible items.

Try to store receipts in the cloud, and ask for an email receipt when shopping in-store. Many paper receipts fade within a few months, so it's best to scan the original receipt and store it digitally as soon as possible.

Even if you use an FSA card, you should still keep the receipts in case the IRS asks for proof that you purchased FSA-eligible items.

Still not sure what you can buy with your FSA card? Shop online at FSAStore.com and be confident that you're buying eligible maternity and baby items.


Thanks for visiting the FSA Learning Center! To stay on top of all FSA news that can affect your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A Certified Financial Health Counselor and Student Loan Counselor, she also works as a money coach helping people one-on-one at Conscious Coins. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years.
Living Well

Real Money: Preparing to travel without your baby (for the first time)

Leaving your baby behind for a much-needed weekend away can be nerve-wracking. Calm your senses a bit by making sure your caretakers are prepared.

Educating them on your child's schedule, dietary needs, and likes and dislikes is all well and good, but don't forget about their medical needs. We go over what to leave behind for your child's caretakers, from basic first aid supplies to feeding gear, even some useful items in the off-chance your little one comes down with a cold.

And don't forget to have a few extras of everything on hand. Trust us, something will inevitably get misplaced.

The basics

Take our advice: Stock up on more diapering must-haves than you think you'll need. That includes diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream. Amateur diaper changers always go a little too heavy on the wipes, am I right?

With FSA-eligible items like ointment, gas drops, and a hi-tech baby monitor to your arsenal, and you'll be more than ready to leave your little one. And if you're not ready, go anyway. Having a little time apart is good for both you—and the baby.

Outdoor must-haves

If your caretakers plan to take your little one on an excursion of two (don't panic—even the most novice babysitters can handle a walk around the neighborhood in a stroller), be sure they have all the goods to keep baby protected.

Be sure you have some infant sunscreen (keeping in mind sunscreen recommendations by age), a good water bottle and a sunhat. You may even want to spring for some sunscreen with bug repellent.

Feeding supplies

If you're little one is still breastfeeding, be sure to leave behind enough pumped milk or formula for the entirety of your time away, plus some extra. An FSA-eligible breast pump can help you save up some liquid gold for your little one. And don't forget to take your pump—along with some nursing pads, trust us on this one—on your weekend away. If your baby is formula-fed, be sure to have a few canisters on hand, as well.

Don't forget to leave specific feeding instructions on ounces, frequency, even which bottle your baby prefers (yes, this is very much a thing). While feeding your baby is like second nature to you, it's a whole new ballgame for anyone else.

Sickness remedies

Kids get sick at the most inopportune times. Let's face it, it's usually when you and your spouse finally have a trip planned for some much-needed R&R. But don't cancel your trip on account of a few sniffles. Instead, stock up on some must-haves like Boogie Wipes, a nasal aspirator, and a humidifier.

Once you have the supplies to ensure both baby and babysitter will be well-taken care of, it's time to take care of you. And that means getting away, sleeping in, and maybe even having an adult beverage or two. After all, you won't have your tiny alarm clock rousing you at 6:00 the next morning.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

It's Folic Acid Awareness Week! Is there enough in your diet?

Will 2017 be a life-changing year for your family? If your family will expanding in the coming months, be sure to take the lessons of Folic Acid Awareness Week to heart during January 8-14, 2017! Folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) is a key nutrient for women of child-bearing age, as it can prevent up to 70% of some serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects, if taken before and during early pregnancy. Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that helps your body produce and maintain new cells, while also preventing DNA changes that may lead to cancer.

The CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service recommend that all women between the ages of 15 and 45 consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent two types of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly.These defects develop in the early stages of pregnancy, which is why it's so vital that women who are planning to become pregnant have the appropriate levels of folic acid present to contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Let's explore how you can incorporate more folic acid into your diet to prepare for a little one who may be on the way!

  1. Supplement your diet with folic acid-rich foods

Folic acid is typically added to a number of fortified foods like pastas, cereals and grains in the U.S., but only one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age get the recommended amount solely from their diets. In addition to fortified grains and pastas, folic acid is found in a variety of natural foods that can supplement your diet. In particular, consider incorporating increased amounts of dark leafy green vegetables like spinach and collard/mustard/turnip greens, asparagus, broccoli, beans (lentils, pinto, garbanzo, black, navy, kidney, lima) beans, okra, Brussels sprouts, avocado, sunflower/flax seeds and cauliflower.

  1. Begin a prenatal multivitamin regimen

If you are enrolled in a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), these funds can cover the cost of prenatal multivitamins! Prenatal vitamins contain the nutritional requirements that women of childbearing age need to fill the necessary nutrient gaps that can contribute to the healthy development of a newborn.

In addition to a generous amount of folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9), choose a prenatal multivitamin that contains vitamin B12, vitamin D, K, E, and minerals such as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

  1. Keep it up!

While folic acid intake is truly pivotal for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the future, Folic Acid Awareness Week also sheds light on the nutrient's role in a woman's long-term wellness. This nutrient has been known to play a role in preventing certain cancers like colon and cervical cancer, and it can also contribute to the elimination of the chemical homocysteine in the body, which is known to contribute to the development of heart disease. Furthermore, folic acid is used in the treatment of memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, and a variety of other age-related conditions.

For all of your parenting needs from pregnancy to motherhood, rely on FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products and the baby care products you need to help your little one thrive!

Living Well

August is National Breastfeeding Month

National Breastfeeding Month takes place each August to educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding in the healthy development of their children.

National Breastfeeding Month takes place each August. It's an effort to educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding in the healthy development of their children. This year's initiative is focused on anchoring breastfeeding as a key component of worldwide sustainable development.


There are five themes including: nutrition/food, security, health, well-being and survival, environment and climate change, work productivity, empowerment, social protection, and sustainable partnerships and rule of law.

Lower frequency of illness/colds

The breast milk made after birth is called colostrum. It's dense with nutrients and antibodies that can help protect babies from infections. Additionally, colostrum plays a role in the development of a baby's digestive system and overall function. Research shows that babies who breastfeed are typically less-likely to contract colds and viruses, as well as develop pneumonia, diarrhea and other digestive maladies. Additionally, research has reveals breastfed babies are also less likely to develop chronic medical conditions later in life, such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and Crohn's disease.

Higher IQ Scores

In the long-term, a number of breastfeeding studies show children who were breastfed showed a 7.5 point increase in IQ by the time they reached elementary school age. Additionally, once these children reach adult life, they also showcase an increase in verbal, performance and comprehensive IQ.

Benefits for Mom

Breastfeeding moms will also reap the benefits of the practice.Women who breastfeed have a much lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. They also have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Research finds that breastfeeding also burns extra calories.

It's Cheaper!

The cost of formula can range anywhere from $150 to $400 per month, and can leave significant nutrition gaps that can negatively affect the child's development. In the immediate and long-term, breastfeeding is a cost-effective, sustainable option.

Visit FSAstore.com for your baby care needs! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products, including breast pumps, storage bags and related items.

Living Well

What is the safest sunscreen for kids?

Sun protection is a major consideration for parents. Learn more about the safest sunscreen for kids on this blog post and shop with an FSA.

Spring may seem early to begin talking about proper sun care, but if you have small children, protecting their skin from the sun's rays will take on a new importance as they spend more time outdoors as the season progresses. Sun protection is a major consideration for parents, as recent studies have shown that sustaining just five major sunburns during youth can raise a child's risk of developing life-threatening skin cancers like melanoma by 80 percent.

Sunburns are caused by the skin's absorption of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which are present whether it's sunny or cloudy, reaching their peak levels between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are directly tied to the formation of skin cancer. Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit can cover the reimbursement of sunscreen for the whole family. Here are some vital guidelines to consider when choosing a sunscreen for your kids.

Keep babies out of the sun entirely: First things first, if you are a parent of a child younger than 6 months, you should be searching for ways to cover him/her up rather than purchasing a sunscreen! Physicians advise new parents to keep their infants out of sunlight completely if they are under 6 months of age, as sunburn can cause significant pain, fever and even dehydration in newborns, as well as dramatically raising their susceptibility to skin issues later in life. Keep the baby's arms and legs covered in light-colored, lightweight clothing and stick to the shade during his/her first 6 months.

Shop for Baby Sunscreen

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher: A sunscreen's sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of the item's ability to prevent UV rays from harming the skin, which is a huge consideration for small children who will experience long periods of sun exposure. For instance, if a person's skin can remain unprotected in the sun for 30 minutes without burning, an SPF 15 product will theoretically protect the wearer for 15 times longer, or for 7.5 hours. SPF 15 is the bare minimum for a child's sun care regimen, so feel free to go for a stronger variant for very young children or kids with skin that is more susceptible to sunburn.

Broad spectrum protection: The classification of "broad spectrum" refers to sunscreens that block all forms of ultraviolet rays. UV radiation is broken up into two primary wavelengths: UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave) radiation. UVA and UVB rays contribute to premature skin aging, eye damage and most skin cancers, and UVA rays make up about 95 percent of all UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, while the other 5 percent is UVB rays. While UVB rays are the chief cause of sunburn and damage the outermost layers of the skin, UVA rays can penetrate down to the dermis level and can spark the development of some skin cancers. Simply put, if it's not "broad spectrum," it won't do the job!

Shop for Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Water resistance: Sunscreen that can stand up to water during swimming or sweat during heavy activity is a major concern for the product's efficacy, especially with active children. The Federal Drug Administration has ruled that sunscreens that are considered "water-resistant" will continue protect wearers for at least 40 minutes after application. Because no sunscreen is 100 percent waterproof, it's vital that wearers re-apply throughout the day to maintain a full spectrum of protection.

Shop for Water-Resistant Sunscreen

With a long summer of fun in the sun ahead, make sure to support the wellness of your entire family by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your benefits!

Eligibility

Fall baby care tips with your FSA

Fall is officially here. Learn about fall health for your baby on our blog.

While fall is a great time to spend indoors and outdoors, there are some specific illnesses that target baby immune systems.So, how can you prepare for the fall? Use your FSA and keep your entire family healthy along the way.

Prepare for Colder Weather

Babies can be prone to different health problems depending on cooler temperatures. Make sure to adequately prepare your house and your family while leaving home, especially on those chillier autumn days.

Prevent the flu

Use your Flexible Spending Account to get a flu shot. They're covered! You can also buy Cold & Allergy products with your FSA, whether you're dealing with fall allergies, a cold, or flu-like symptoms.

Check out the TheraPearl Hot/Cold Eye Pack for sinus pressure relief

Shop for Cold and Allergy Products at FSA Store

Does your baby or older child have a fever?

Thermometers are covered by your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). It's easy to monitor their fevers with a wide variety of thermometers.

Keep kids comfy while they're sick

Another fun item to keep kids comfy while they're feeling sick is a Thermal-Aid Zoo Animal. These 100% natural cotton items can be used for both hot and cold therapy and treat fevers, earaches, flu symptoms, sprains, headaches and more.

Keep kids healthy during school

Have a little one in school? Make sure you treat minor injuries or cold/flu-like symptoms as quickly as possible to ensure they stay healthy during the year.

Shop for Back to School items with your FSA

Additional items covered by your FSA for Baby and Young Children:

  1. Nasal aspirators &saline solution. Nasal aspirators or saline solution can be a great way to treat a cold and provide some relief. However, if you think your baby has closer to flu-like symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor.
  2. If you need administer medications to baby,you can use specialmedicatorsthat provide medications ina pain-free way.
  3. Breast Pumps & Accessories (storage bags, nipple shields, etc.).
  4. Baby sunscreen (SPF 15+). Use baby sunscreen year-round to keep your baby's sensitive skin protected from the elements.
  5. Items containing active medical ingredients including baby aspirin, chest rubs or diaper rash cream are covered but require a prescription for FSA reimbursement.
Discover medical services covered by your FSA via the Eligibility List

Shop for all of these Baby Care items at FSA Store