It's back-to-school time, and as you scramble to get your kids ready for the new academic year, there may be more to think about than just picking up school supplies.
This is because August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Each year, the organization aims to provides information to the public that can help protect and preserve your child's eye health.
Luckily, whether you have a standard flexible spending account (FSA) or a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA), your benefits can cover a significant portion of vision care expenses that can help your child see clearly throughout the coming school year. Here are just a few of the AAO's suggestions of what you should cover as the calendar flips to September and school gets underway.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), an eye exam is recommended for school-aged children every two years if there is no vision correction issue present, and those who need glasses or contact lenses should visit on an annual basis.
Before your kids get back in the classroom this fall, make an appointment with your optometrist to ensure your child's eyesight is healthy - and use your FSA to offset the costs.
Another good plan is to make sure your kids have up-to-date glasses and contact lenses that can stand up to the rigors of childhood. Your FSA covers reading glasses, prescription eyeglasses and prescription contact lenses.
If your child's eye wear is in need of an update, your FSA can cover the fresh new look they've been looking for. Visit our Optical Store to browse our selection of leading eye care brands.
Are all types of contacts covered?
If contacts are designed to correct vision problems, they're FSA-eligible. Though insurance companies might have their own policies regarding coverage of specific types or brands of lenses, they're usually reimbursable with your tax-free funds. Plus, unlike some insurance providers, which may not cover contact lenses in place of eyeglasses, if the contacts are prescribed to correct vision they are eligible, regardless of insurance plan coverage.
Vision correction accessories
Are you running low on contact lens solution? Has your child misplaced a carrying case? In addition to vision correction methods, your FSA covers a huge slate of products that can protect and prolong the lifespan of your kids' eyeglasses and contact lenses. Contact lens solution, eyeglass repair kits, cleaning cloths and much more are eligible for FSA reimbursement.
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, 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.
If you ask most business travelers, they will tell you that they have a love/hate relationship with the practice. While it's certainly exciting to see and experience new places, the daily grind of flying and an ever-changing slate of hotel rooms can weigh on even the most savvy business traveler.
So if you had a way to improve your comfort level, avoid chronic pain issues and maintain your overall wellness during travel, you wouldn't turn it down, right? Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit covers a huge range of eligible products that will do just that. Here's how to use FSA money to boost your overall health during your next business trip.
- Orthopedic Neck Pillow
If you experience chronic pain issues from sleeping in an upright position, you may experience additional pain throughout your business trip. An orthopedic neck pillow can contour to the neck and shoulders, and can be used in conjunction with traditional pillows to provide a comfortable sleep position that alleviates pain.
Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support
- Acupressure Mat
Tackling pain on the road is tough, but instead of constantly resorting to over-the-counter pain relievers, acupressure mats may be the perfect solution. Acupressure mats target specific pressure points in the user's back, neck and shoulders to alleviate pain in various parts of the body. These mats are used to treat back/neck/shoulder pain, fibromyalgia pain and even migraines. Best of all, they are compact and can be stored in a suitcase with ease.
- Pain Relief Eye Mask
In addition to helping to block out light to help you sleep, pain relief eye masks are great options for business travelers who experience migraines, sinus pain or wake up with puffy eyes. After a short time in the refrigerator, these masks can provide cooling relief to fight pain and inflammation so you can wake up feeling your best.
Check Out: IMAK Eye Mask, Pain Relief
- Sun Protection with Daily Moisturizer
Is your face feeling as refreshed as it could be before a major business excursion? Daily moisturizers are usually not FSA-eligible, but those that offer broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA as long as their primary purpose is sun protection. These products can help refresh the look of your skin and safeguard your skin from the harsh effects of UVA and UVB rays.
- Eyeglass Repair Kit
If you wear glasses, you know the nightmare of having your eyewear break while on the road. Luckily, a surprising number of eyeglass accessories are FSA eligible, from eyeglass repair kits to cleaning wipes to cleaning sprays. Prepare ahead of time for these emergencies to give you confidence on your business trip!
Check Out: Flents Eyeglass Repair Kit
Eyeglasses (both reading and prescription eyeglasses) are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA. Simply fill out a claim form and submit the receipt for the product to be reimbursed for the cost of the qualifying item.
When you're experiencing the worst of your seasonal allergy symptoms this spring, just imagine how much worse it could be if you were wearing contact lenses! This time of year is especially trying for contact lens wearers, as the American Optometric Association claims more than 75% of contact lens wearers complain of allergen-caused eye pain and irritation.
Allergy season calls for special tactics that contact lens wearers should practice throughout spring to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Before your local pollen count peaks, keep the following tips in mind.
- Switch to eyeglasses
During allergy season, contact lenses provide an additional surface for pollen, dust and other allergens to stick to, and they can be like sponges for these particles throughout the spring, reports VeryWell.com. Wearing eyeglasses, even on a part-time basis, can dramatically limit how many allergens your eyes come into contact with and can reduce irritation over the course of allergy season.
- Invest in rewetting drops
If you're sticking with your contacts throughout allergy season, investing in rewetting drops or artificial tears is a must. Not only will this help your eyes feel better, but they can also wash out allergens that may be present on the surface of your lenses. Best of all, if you are enrolled in a flexible spending account (FSA), rewetting drops and other contact lens care products are FSA-eligible!
- Boost your cleaning regimen
Allergy season calls for a more rigorous cleaning routine, so make an effort to clean your lenses more often during the spring months to remove any lingering traces of allergens that may be present on the surface of the lenses. Consider full-scale disinfecting solutions for this time of year, and if you wear disposable lenses, replace them more often during the spring months to avoid irritation.
- Utilize cold compresses
One of the worst things you can do when experiencing eye irritation is to rub your eyes, as this will make the inflammation worse by spreading the allergens around your eyes. Instead, utilize cold compresses. A cool, damp towel or washcloth can work in a pinch, as well as FSA-eligible eye therapy masks that can be placed in the refrigerator and worn over the eyes when you're experiencing your worst symptoms.
This allergy season, make sure you're prepared by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits!
Each year, the American Optometric Association sponsors Save Your Vision Month, which is held each March to promote the importance of regular, comprehensive eye care from a doctor of optometry.Your eyes are your windows to the world, and if you can't remember the last time you've been in an optometrist's office, it's never too late to put a renewed emphasis on your eye health.
Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your FSA can cover a huge range of qualifying optometric products and services. Don't know where to start? Here are a few FSA eligible expenses to keep in mind during Save Your Vision Month.
- Eye Exams
First and foremost, the cost to cover a visit to the optometrist's office is FSA eligible! A standard eye exam will consist of vision tests to check close and distant vision, Tonometry to test for glaucoma, and a thorough exam of the inner eye after the pupils have been dilated. Most eye exams will only take an hour or more to complete, which provides enough time for the exam and to be fitted for a prescription vision correction method if necessary.
- Eye Surgery
Surgery that is necessary to correct vision loss is FSA eligible, so if you or a loved one needs corrective surgery as the result of a vision problem or a recent injury, these procedures would be covered by your benefit. Additionally, vision correction surgeries such as LASIK are also FSA eligible, so common vision issues such as presbyopia (poor far sighted vision) and myopia (poor near sighted vision) can be treated in a single doctor's office visit.
If you wear glasses, an FSA can help you save hundreds each year on the frames, lenses and accessories you need to see clearly. Both reading and prescription eyeglasses are FSA eligible, as well as eyeglass repair kits, cleaning cloths and sprays to help you prolong the life span and efficacy of your vision correction methods.
- Contact Lenses
Contact lens wearers must support their vision correction methods with a rigorous cleaning and maintenance regimen. Contact lenses, lens solution and carrying cases are daily mainstays for contact lens wearers, but luckily all of these products are FSA eligible as well. This can help contact wearers save hundreds each year on the products they use every day.
- Eye Drops
Last but not least, March hails the arrival of spring allergy season, and your vision could suffer greatly during peak pollen days when contending with itchy, watery eyes. Anti-allergy eye drops are FSA eligible and can relieve the discomfort that often accompanies the early spring for allergy sufferers.
If you're in need of eye care products during Save Your Vision Month, rely on FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits!
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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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
2017 is finally here, and whether you're a new flexible spending account (FSA) user or a seasoned veteran of these accounts, if you ever have an issue with your benefit, you can submit a question to the FSAstore.com Learning Center! This area of our site outlines the most frequently asked questions about FSAs, and you can even submit a question to our experts who will reply to your query as quickly as possible!
We received plenty of great questions over the course of 2016, and we wanted to share a few of the most common and relevant submissions as we kick off the new year:
- Can I cancel my FSA contributions at any time?
Unfortunately, FSA contributions cannot be canceled at any time during the plan year and account holders are required to finish out their plan year in accordance to the payroll deductions they signed up for during the Open Enrollment period. However, there are a few special exceptions that would allow an FSA user to change their contributions, which are called Qualifying Life Events (QLEs). QLEs include a change in marital status (marriage, divorce, death of spouse), a change in the number of dependents, a change in employment status of account holder, spouse or dependent, an event that causes the dependent to satisfy or cease to satisfy an eligibility requirement for a particular benefit or a change in residence of the employee, spouse or dependent.
- Is there a cap on spending for eyeglasses?
There is no cap on spending for eyeglasses if they are purchased for you, your spouse or a qualified dependent. However, the IRS does not allow for the "stockpiling" of one particular item with FSA funds, so as long as account holders are not buying excessive amounts of a specific item, they should have no issues with reimbursement.
- I am going to finance the $5K cost of hearing aids over a 48 month period. I will then pay monthly installments totaling +/- $1,400/year. I know hearing aids are eligible expenses, but are they covered via financing? Including the finance charges?
FSAs may only provide reimbursement for services received within the current plan year. So for the year in which you actually incur the expense (you are provided with the hearing aids), you would be able to submit for reimbursement from your FSA. However, finance charges are not eligible with an FSA, and any payments you make in subsequent years would not be eligible because they would not correspond with the year in which the services (or in this case, product) were received. Keep in mind that you don't actually have to pay the expense for it to qualify for reimbursement. In the year in which you are provided with the hearing aids for example, you could potentially elect the full $2,550 FSA limit and be provided with up to $2,550 in reimbursement for your $5,000 hearing aids, whether or not you have actually paid that much to date.
- Can I have an FSA and HSA?
Yes, you can have what's known as a Limited FSA as that's often paired with an HSA. But to be eligible for both an HSA and FSA, the Limited FSA will only be able to cover specific items that are not covered under the HSA. For example, these limited expenses could include dental, vision or over-the-counter dental and vision products. If you have more questions about eligibility, it's best to ask your HSA/FSA administrator.
- What's the max allowed for 2017 medical FSA that each my husband and I can take through our individual employers?
The IRS announced in October that the 2017 FSA maximum will be $2,600, up $50 from 2016. Because the FSA max is applicable on an account by account basis, if an individual and their spouse both have access to their own FSA through their own employers (and those employers are not affiliated), they can each elect the maximum for 2017. If they did, they would have a combined household contribution of $5,200.
Most first-time eyeglasses wearers will have to choose between two types of corrective eye wear: reading and prescription eyeglasses. Learn more.
Let's examine the difference between the two most popular eyeglasses options.
Reading glasses are designed to treat presbyopia, which is a condition that most adults experience once they reach the age of 35 to 45. Presbyopia is caused by decreased elasticity in the eye's lens that makes objects difficult to see from close range. These glasses come in generic strengths to improve the wearer's vision when reading. Standard reading glasses are only designed to view objects at close range, which is why bifocals are commonly used to shift between short range and distance vision. Reading glasses are not designed to correct vision problems, and unlike prescription glasses, are not designed for full-time use.
Shop for reading glasses with your FSA
Prescription eyeglasses are specially designed for a patient's specific vision problem, and can be used to correct just about any condition. Unlike reading glasses that can be purchased over-the-counter, patients must consult an eye doctor to obtain an accurate prescription that will work to alleviate his/her eyesight condition. Prescription eyeglasses are more expensive than reading glasses, but they are typically made with higher quality materials, lenses and frames, as well as offering great variety in style and enhanced durability.
Shop for prescription glasses with your FSA
If you wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, you know that daily maintenance of these is important, but can also take time and effort. Proper eyesight and eye health are crucial to day-to-day tasks, and to ensuring you're going through the day in a pain-free way (having proper fit, clean lenses and comfortable support), too.
Eye Care tips with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Your Flexible Spending Account can cover the cost of various eye care expenses, but you'll have to look up what's specifically covered.Wondering which eye care expenses a Flexible Spending Account covers? You can also search our Eligibility List to discover medical services and healthcare products.By using your FSA, you're saving on out-of-pocket expenses that you would use for
We've outlined a few tips for proper care of contact lenses, keeping eyeglasses clean, and even offering advice for reusing your old contact lens cases(though we relied on some fun tips from both 1800contacts and LifeHacker for these).
3 Tips for Eyeglass Care
1. Use a proper cloth. Whatever you do, don't use your t-shirt to clean your eyeglasses. It will contain dust particles that could scratch your lenses.
2. Wash eyeglasses each morning. Did you know you can also use soap and water to clean your eyeglasses, and then finish it off with a special cloth?
3. Avoid eye strain. Using a lighted magnifier can help you read small print without causing eye strain.
Shop for Eye Care Accessories
Shop the Eye Care Bundle for comprehensive eye care needs
6 Tipsto Keep your Contact Lenses Clean
Tip 1: Never reuse old solution. Rinse out the contact lens case every day and replace with new solution.
Tip 2: Keep the tip of the contact lens solution clean! It should never touch any surfaces - including another container, your lenses, or your lens case.
Tip 3: Only use contact lens solutions to rinse and disinfect. Tap water can carry eye irritants and, sometimes, bacteria. Only use FDA-approved solutions.
Tip 4: Clean hands = happy eyes. Make sure you wash and dry your hands before placing and removing your contact lenses from your eyes.
Tip 5: Listen to your eye doctor. Use only the solution your doctor recommends, and only wear the lenses for as long as you're instructed.
Shop for Contact LensSolution at FSA Store
But, have you ever considered reusing your contact lens cases?
6 Ways to (Re)Use your Contact Lens Case:
1. Pill Storage. You can safely and conveniently store your pills during travel.
2. Sunscreen Applicator. Prepare sunscreen for travel, and apply as necessary for daily sun protection.
3. Traveling? Buy travel-size contact lens solution instead of adding the solution directly to the contact lens case. This will avoid changing the solution's sterility.
4. Get creative. Re-use contact lens cases for fingerpaint projects or as an arts and crafts holder.
5. Store earbuds. Listen to your music on your phone, but hate how tangled the earbuds get? Contact lens cases can be easy storage containers.
6. Play a game. You can convert the contact lens case into game pieces for checkers, or even a simple math game for kids.
Many of the ideas for these contact lens reusetips wererecommendedby 1800contacts.com.
Look for other inspirations via