Living Well

Real Money: Getting proactive about your heart health (and your FSA)

When it comes to maintaining your heart health, being proactive about prevention is key. So, for starters, you should be discussing your heart health with your primary care physician on a regular basis. It's important for your doctor to be aware of your current baseline heart health so they can keep an eye open for any changes that may indicate a serious complication.

Also keep in mind that you can use your FSA to cover any part of your preventative heart health care that isn't already covered by your insurance.

A quick word on your heart health

If you ever suspect you might have a heart problem, it's important to get to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner treatment is received, the better your chances are of minimizing any serious damage to the muscle and getting on the right track to improve your heart health.

It goes without saying, we're not doctors -- make sure you speak with your doctor before making any heart-related purchases or using any of the products mentioned here. Our recommendations are suggested only for people who have been advised to use these products as part of an approved care and prevention regimen.

Heart health at home

After seeing your doctor, it may be recommended that you purchase home diagnostic equipment to get a better picture of your overall heart health. This will allow you to be more proactive in managing your health. It'll also help your team of doctors come to a quicker diagnosis should any further problems arise.

Some of these helpful items might include:

  • Blood pressure monitors - If you're at risk for hypertension or heart disease, there's a good chance your doctor will want you to keep a close eye on your blood pressure as it's a big indication of your heart health. There are a ton of options out there - from small monitors that you wear on your wrist to more traditional units, there's an option out there to fit your preferences. And these monitors are FSA eligible expenses.
  • Pulse oximeters - These are small devices that provide you with a convenient and noninvasive way to keep an eye on oxygen saturation levels in your blood as well as your heart rate. Some units even sync with smartphones to make data tracking simple, and they're totally FSA eligible.
  • Stethoscopes - If you have a heart irregularity, your doctor may recommend that you use a stethoscope to monitor heart sounds. There's a huge variety of high-quality stethoscopes that are all FSA eligible.

Emergency planning

It's important to have a plan in place should an emergency arise. As in any emergency, the first step is to call 911 so the medical professionals can treat the condition as quickly as possible. But there are some things you can keep at home that can save a life in the minutes before the ambulance arrives.

Keeping these things on hand can help save lives in the event of a cardiac emergency:

  • 911 emergency alert wearables - Wearable emergency alert devices are great for anyone likely to suffer from a medical emergency, particularly people that suffer from a chronic condition or who lives alone. These devices can call for help even if the user can't get to the phone. And this life-saving device is FSA-eligible.
  • CPR masks - CPR masks are a must have in every home medicine cabinet. These simple devices make performing CPR safe and simple and can be the difference between life and death if someone stops breathing.
  • HeartStart defibrillators - AED devices are used to deliver an electric shock and restart the heart after cardiac arrest. These machines can save lives when the worst happens - and they're FSA-eligible.

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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.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Eric's diet and wellness journey

If you're like most Americans, you probably feel like you could be more focused on your health. Let's be honest -- most of us could probably be making healthier food choices to . But eating right is an uphill battle a lot of people fight each day.

Let's look at Eric, a 40-year-old male from the midwest. He's been working hard to reach personal health goals -- waking up early to work out at the gym, drinking more water throughout the day, and trying to sleep for at least eight hours every night (even investing in some items to improve his sleep habits).

As of his last checkup, Eric has a clean bill of health, but feels like he could be living a healthier lifestyle (think "less drive-thru" and more "walks in the park"). He's come a long way from when he first started and is finally ready to tackle a key step of his health journey: his dietary needs.

Nutritionists and dietitians

After learning about the differences between nutritionists and dietitians (dietitians are licensed professionals and have graduated from accredited programs) Eric is finally ready to see a professional who can help rehaul his diet -- which currently involves more cookies than it probably should.

Even beyond that, Eric can finally put his flexible spending account (FSA) to good use.

Unfortunately, a "general wellness" appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist may not be FSA-eligible unless you have a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN).

LMNs are written by qualified medical professionals, and basically state that there is a medical purpose or necessity for an activity, product or appointment. Because Eric doesn't have any underlying medical conditions or diagnoses, he probably wouldn't qualify for an LMN, and his FSA administrator may not allow these expenses without it.

His best bet is to contact his FSA administrator directly, who knows exactly what's covered and what isn't, and what types of documentation he'll need to make sure he gets reimbursed for those expenses.

Other FSA-eligible wellness tactics

Eric called his administrator and learned he'd need an LMN afterall, and couldn't get an LMN for the dietitian. But instead of getting discouraged, he decided to find FSA-eligible options for improving his overall lifestyle to go along with dietary improvements. Here are some of the options we can recommend for Eric:

Unhealthy habits: Eric doesn't have any major health issues, but he does have a bad habit that might affect his health in the future: smoking. We all know smoking isn't recommended, even his relatively small habit of a few cigarettes per day. Luckily, he can use his FSA to pay for over the counter anti-smoking products (Rx required) and smoking cessation groups.

Proactive weight management: Even though Eric is in decent physical shape, he still can't find a way to eat right all the time leading to a few extra pounds that his doctors think he should lose. If the problem worsens, and his doctors feel it's right, weight-loss programs might be FSA-eligible down the line, if they determine a medical need.

To get ahead of that potential concern, Eric is doing a lot of cardio workouts, but wants to stay within a healthy activity range, so he went out and got a blood pressure monitor. Now Eric can track his levels, so he never overdoes it, causing more health concerns.

Chiropractic care: Since Eric has been working out a lot, he may need chiropractic care in the future to deal with aching joints or workout related injuries. Like other specialists, if his doctor considers it a medical need, Eric can use her FSA.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, taking care of your body and improving your health is what matters the most. While working for a healthy body is an ongoing job, your FSA can be a big part of fixing some gaps in your lifestyle.

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.

Caring Mill™ Premium Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

With every purchase of Caring Mill products, a donation is made to Children's Health Fund.

Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

The smart blood pressure monitor that fits your daily life.

Eligibility

10 ways to spend your FSA dollars by March 15

For many FSA users, 2016 isn't over quite yet! The period between January 1 and March 15 is the FSA grace period (for FSA plans that ended on December 31, 2016), the last chance for millions of FSA holders to spend down the remainder of their 2016 funds before they are forfeited.

Companies have the option of choosing the 2.5 month grace period or the $500 rollover when setting up FSA plans for employees, so if your plan features the grace period, there is still time to spend down the remainder of your 2016 funds before the deadline! Whether you have $600 or $60 left in your account, FSAstore.com can help you spend down your remaining 2016 funds on the eligible products you and your family use the most. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind before March 15 arrives!

  1. Medical/Dental/Vision Care

First and foremost, your FSA is one of the easiest ways to save on medical spending, so whether you've been putting off a physical exam, a dental cleaning or even thinking about LASIK surgery, these are all qualifying medical expenses that can be covered with FSA funds. Before your 2016 plan year comes to a close, use your remaining funds to lay a healthy foundation for 2017!

  1. First Aid Kits

You may have a first aid kit at home, but what about your car, boat or workplace? Accidents happen when you least expect them, so be prepared for the worst wherever you're heading with FSA eligible first aid supplies.

Check Out: Adventure Medical First Aid Kit Comprehensive

  1. Mineral Sunscreen

The sun's rays are dangerous for your skin during any season, so if you'll be spending an extended amount of time outdoors in the coming months, make sure your skin is protected with mineral sunscreen! These products do not absorb into the skin, offer broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and are ready to protect from the sun as soon as they're applied.

Check Out: La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Face Mineral Tinted Sunscreen, 1.7 fl oz

  1. Sunscreen Lip Balm with SPF 15+

Don't let your lips suffer from a lack of sun protection year-round. Sun care lip balms that contain a sun protection factor of 15 or above are FSA eligible! Apply it before heading outdoors to safeguard your lips from the elements.

Check Out: Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50

  1. Bandages

Bandages are staples of the modern household that can handle cuts, scratches and bruises large and small. They can also run out fast over the course of the year, so this is the perfect opportunity to plan ahead.

Check Out: Band-Aid Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages 1 In, 100 ea

  1. Neck Supports

Orthopedic neck supports are considered FSA eligible expenses, so if you're traveling in the future or simply need some pain relief when you're lounging around the house, these neck pillows can make a huge difference!

Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support

  1. Contact Lens Accessories

In addition to contact lenses being FSA eligible, products like lens solution, carrying cases and other accessories are eligible for reimbursement as well.

Check Out: Bausch and Lomb Biotrue Multi Purpose Solution, 10 oz (Pack of 2)

  1. Eyeglass Accessories

On the opposite end of the spectrum, eyeglass wearers have plenty of care considerations of their own when maintaining their eyewear. Cleaning clothes, eyeglass repair kits and other accessories are FSA eligible, so use your benefit to ensure they're in great shape year-round.

Check Out: Apex Eyeglass Repair Kit Model No : 71013 - 1 Ea

  1. Thermometer

Has your family's thermometer seen better days? These devices have evolved by leaps and bounds in recent years to make taking a temperature easier than ever. Oral, in-ear, forehead and other designs are all eligible with an FSA!

Check Out: Braun Forehead Thermometer

  1. Blood Pressure Monitor

If you or a loved one has a history of hypertension or a family history of heart disease, blood pressure monitoring is a smart choice for future health decisions. Smartphone-enabled blood pressure monitors make it easier than ever to track numbers and share them with healthcare professionals to better realize your long-term health goals.

Check Out: Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Adventure Medical First Aid Kit Comprehensive

Find everything you need to care for a large group on an extended trip.


Eligibility

Are Qardio products FSA eligible?

If you have an FSA and you're in the market for a blood pressure monitor, the QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is reimbursable through an FSA.

You may have noticed during your recent Open Enrollment period an option to enroll in a flexible spending account (FSA). More than 35 million Americans have FSAs, and they work by giving the account holder the option to choose an allocation for the year. This is up to $2,600 for single individuals or $5,200 for couples filing jointly, which has the benefit of limiting taxable income and providing an additional source of funds to pay for qualifying medical products and services.

Which Qardio products are eligible?

Luckily, if you have an FSA and you're in the market for a blood pressure monitor, the QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is reimbursable through an FSA, HSA or HRA. The smartphone-compatible QardioArm can help users create a time-lapse picture to measure fluctuations in their blood pressure numbers, which can help to eliminate false readings and help your doctor formulate the ideal treatment plan for your needs. QardioArm is also a great option if you are looking to upgrade your old blood pressure monitor for a simpler, pen and paper free way, to get deeper insights to your heart health.

Last but not least, the QardioBase Smart Scale and Body Analyzer is not FSA eligible, but if a doctor recommends the use of this scale to assist in the treatment for a legitimate medical condition such as obesity, it could be eligible with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) from a physician. This letter must outline how an account holder's needs for help relates to their medical condition, necessitates the use of a smart scale and how the item will be used to alleviate the issue.

What determines FSA eligibility?

So what is eligible under an FSA? A lot more than you may think! The Internal Revenue Service sets forth the regulations regarding these accounts, and regulation IRS 213(d) lays out which medical products and services are covered with consumer-directed healthcare accounts like FSAs, health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs):

"The term “medical care" means amounts paid—for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."

This definition has some definite gray areas that are open to interpretation. For instance, while one could argue that toothbrushes and toothpaste can prevent gingivitis, the IRS considers these products as those that are used for "general health" purposes and therefore are not eligible with an FSA.

If you want to purchase a Qardio products with your FSA, HSA or HRA funds, check out FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products, and the most comprehensive Eligibility List available so you know exactly what's covered by your benefit.

Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

The smart blood pressure monitor that fits your daily life.

Eligibility

How to choose a blood pressure monitor

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Learn how to choose a blood pressure monitor with your FSA at FSAstore.com.

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and those who suffer from hypertension know that keeping their numbers at healthy levels will require a combination of a healthy diet, exercise and even medication in some cases. However, many physicians will suggest the purchase of a blood pressure monitor for patients with hypertension. These machines provide an easy way to record daily readings to evaluate the efficacy of a hypertension treatment plan, but there are certainly a lot of products on the market to choose from!

Shop for blood pressure monitors at FSAstore.com

Here are a few ways to pick the perfect blood pressure monitor:

Professionally Certified

There's a lot of misinformation out there, but when it comes to your health, you shouldn't cut any corners. Make sure your blood pressure monitor has been thoroughly tested and certified by important medical professional associations like the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society or the International Protocol for the Validation of BP Measuring Devices. Additionally, it may be wise to check with your doctor before making a purchase for his/her seal of approval for your unique needs.

Smartphone-Enabled

A growing number of blood pressure monitors now feature smartphone compatibility with iPhone and Android devices that can run interactive apps to track your numbers over time. This can make it much easier to visualize a long-term picture of your blood pressure numbers and dramatically improve your organizational skills. It's also much easier at the doctor's office to pull out your phone with all of the data ready to go!

A Proper Fit

The vast majority of blood pressure monitors utilize cuffs that go over the upper arm that gently squeeze the area and measure the user's blood pressure. Cuffs come in a wide variety of sizes, so it may be wise to have you or a loved one's arm measured for a cuff at a medical supply store before making a major purchase.

Automatic or Manual?

While most of us are familiar with the manual style of blood pressure monitor that is found in the doctor's office, the vast majority will utilize automatic, digital variants that measure blood pressure at the upper arm. This styles are the most accurate, as opposed to other devices that may measure through the wrist or finger. While manual blood pressure monitors may be reliable, automatic monitors with their extended lists of features and ease of use may make them the better buy.

If you're in the market for diagnostic equipment or anything else regarding your health, make sure to check out FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to support the health and wellness of you and your loved ones.

Eligibility

A new way to monitor blood pressure

Monitoring Blood Pressure with a Flexible Spending Account

An estimated 67 million American adults deal with high blood pressure levels, also called hypertension, which can lead to a wide range of health problems in the future including heart disease and stroke. As a result, many doctors will put patients on a wide range of blood pressure medications, as well as suggesting changes in lifestyle like increased exercise, a healthier diet and smoking cessation.

Most importantly, regular blood pressure monitoring is pivotal to tracking the progress of these changes. Many hypertension sufferers would use an aneroid blood pressure kit like those found in a doctor’s office, but today’s blood pressure monitors have evolved by leaps and bounds through advanced features. Best of all, if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), blood pressure monitors are covered by these accounts!

FSAstore.com Product Spotlight: QardioArm

We're highlighting one particular brand that makes monitoring your blood pressure very easy, and you can use it at home, at work, or while traveling with Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor!

You can use the Qardio every day to measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. The best part is that you can use the Qardio with iPhone and Android, and securely carry your readings with you no matter where you go. The Qardio is light, portable and compact, and easily connects to your smartphone through the free Qardio app, so you can get a quick reading. You can also easily share your readings with a doctor, or with family to ensure everyone is updated.

QardioArm works with:

  • iPhone 4s or later, iPad 3rd gen or later, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPod Touch (5th gen or later). It requires Bluetooth 4.0 and iOS 7.0 or later.
  • Android 4.4 "KitKat" or later.
  • Free Qardio App is available in the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.
You can find a complete list of compatible devices via getqardio.com/devices.