Seemingly everywhere you turn, people are talking about vegan lifestyles. For health reasons… for ethical reasons… whatever the case may be, vegans are no longer a small niche market demanding more diverse menus in restaurants. Today, people are adopting this lifestyle for healthier, "less-processed" lives.
Veganism comes with a plethora of health benefits. From better digestion to less bloating after meals, men and women who eat a vegan diet report an overall increase in their well-being. And that doesn't even account for the environmental benefits of veganism. Studies have shown that plant-based lifestyles are associated with lower environmental impact.
But living a vegan life comes with its own unique challenges -- most of which are dietary. Though it's possible to get all the necessary nutrients with a vegan diet, it might be difficult to ensure that you take in these nutrients everyday.
Even further, veganism is about more than what you eat. It's about protecting the earth and the animals that live on it. Because of this, a large percentage of vegans only use cruelty-free health products.
Now, to be candid, the world is still catching up to vegan lifestyles, and finding these vegan-approved products can be difficult. But there are certain health products available to purchase with your FSA funds. Thanks to your FSA, these eligible products are good for more than just your wallet.
Bare Republic Sunscreen
Bare Republic sunscreen is deemed both vegan and cruelty-free. And as a nice touch, it's available for under $15 per bottle, eliminating much of the cost concerns people have about buying specialty products. If you're looking for a more-natural sun and skin protectant without worrying about costs, this sunscreen is the answer. Bare Republic offers regular sunscreen, sport sunscreen and face sunscreen, so you'll be ready for whatever the day brings.
Coola Sunscreen Stick
Coola offers a variety of products and most of them are vegan. (Notice we said "most" -- some Coola lip balm has beeswax in it) If you need a lightweight sunscreen stick for your purse or car, then the Coola Sport Mineral Sunscreen Stick is the perfect option for environmentally conscious vegans.
Vitamin B12 is often considered one of the most important vitamins for people who eat a vegan diet because it is naturally found in animal products, which vegans do not consume.
This essential vitamin may or may not be eligible with your FSA funds, so you'll want to check with your FSA administrator on exactly what type of documentation they'll require , but it might be a good idea to check in with your health provider too about whether you need more of the supplement. This vitamin is important for nervous system health, and if you're not getting enough B12, you might develop anemia, bone disease, heart disease and even infertility.
Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins
If you're planning on having a baby or are currently pregnant, you'll be happy to hear that Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins are completely vegan and cruelty-free. Plus, they're FSA-eligible. If you intend to maintain a vegan lifestyle during pregnancy, then these vitamins are a great way to start your journey.
Here's the best part—you do not need a prescription or letter of medical necessity from your doctor to order prenatal vitamins. You're free to use your FSA funds to order as many as you need throughout your pregnancy.
It takes a lot of thought and planning to live a vegan lifestyle. And here's the truth—everyone has their own definition of what it means to "go vegan." Some people focus on what they eat, while others are focus on all aspects of vegan life: clothes, beauty products and more. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of veganism, the most important thing is that you're living your best life.
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.
At first glance, vitamins and supplements seem like natural candidates for FSA- and HSA eligibility. They are designed to fill "gaps" in the average diet, and maybe offset minor nutritional deficiencies along the way -- yes, even those related to larger health problems.
But the IRS -- which governs FSA- and HSA-eligibility -- disagrees, while continuing to cite IRS 213(d), which states all FSA-eligible expenses must conform to the following standard:
"The diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."
And this is where the arguments start. Arguments such as...
"My vitamins are necessary! Why am I being punished?"
Vitamins are perhaps the most-glaring example of a product that can either be necessary or "dual-purpose." Daily multivitamins are used to promote better health and well-being, but because there's no specific health need or condition that is helped by using multivitamins, they fall outside the accepted qualifications for FSA- and HSA- eligibility.
Is there a medical basis for needing a multivitamin? Sure - it's for your health, after all. But promoting general well-being and treating a specific condition are two very different things in the eyes of the IRS.
In the past, we've used toothbrushes and floss as a good comparison point for the vitamin debate, and it still holds up. Though we all know proper dental cleaning is necessary for all-around health and wellness, using a toothbrush and floss has not been identified as having a direct role in treating or solving the specific medical condition.
"My vitamins are eligible? How did that happen?"
Though multivitamins are likely the most-popular OTC supplement, only a handful of targeted vitamins have achieved FSA- and HSA-eligibility, provided the patients have documentation from their doctors claiming the need.
I think we can all agree prenatal vitamins meet the IRS requirements for eligibility, since they have shown to prevent birth defects and boost fetal development in ways that most modern diets can't quite seem to achieve.
Likewise, glucosamine/chondroitin supplements are extremely popular at FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com because of their proven benefits for treating arthritis.
Because the above exceptions have proven value in treating specific needs and conditions, they can be purchased with tax-free health dollars, and without any written approvals from physicians. However…
"Is there any chance they'll make an exception?"
We obviously can't answer that here. But as many Americans know, working with the IRS is not nearly the nightmare people used to claim. And if a doctor determines your body needs a specific vitamin supplement -- even if it falls outside of regular FSA or HSA parameters -- then a Letter of Medical Necessity might do the trick.
Chances are, the letter will need to be detailed in explaining why these specific products will benefit you, and how long the expected use will be (such as the duration of specific treatment). It's not a guarantee by any means, but a well-presented case made to your benefits administrator can go a long way toward getting the supplements you need, on a tax-free basis.
Keep mom and baby happy and healthy with daily prenatal vitamins for pregnant and nursing mothers.
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