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Living Well

Real Money: Cancer prevention, screenings and FSAs

One of the most important components of preventative health care is screening for life-threatening diseases like cancer. And when it comes to beating cancer, detecting and treating it early on can dramatically increase your chances of survival.

The goal of these preventative screenings is to catch any signs as early as possible, which gives your medical team the best chance of effectively treating - and defeating - the disease.

September and October represent awareness months for several types of cancer, and that means prevention. Since the ACA has ruled that preventive care is covered by insurance, additional costs don't often occur when it comes to cancer screenings. If there are any additional costs, however, they should be eligible for FSA reimbursement.

(Please note: All plans are different. Be sure to check with your administrator to see what your plan will allow.)

What kind of screenings are done?

Since there are so many different kinds of cancer, there are a variety of different screenings that can be done as a part of preventative care. Depending on factors like age, gender, and family history, your doctor will determine when and how often you should be screened.

Self-screening is important too, and your doctor will advise you on what to look out for and when you should report to a medical professional for further tests. Some common examples of cancer screenings include:

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, as well as amongst young people. So doctors recommend that you regularly check your skin for irregular growths and schedule an appointment right away if you notice anything of concern.

People who spend a lot of time in direct sunlight are at an even higher risk for the disease, so this is even more important to do if your job or recreational activities have you outside on a regular basis.

To test for skin cancer, a dermatologist will examine your skin. If it's suspected that an area might be cancerous, a biopsy of the tissue will be conducted. Any costs associated with these tests will be eligible for reimbursement.

Breast and gynecological cancer

For women, breast cancer and ovarian cancer screenings are an important part of regular preventive care. It's recommended that healthy women with few risk factors begin getting screened regularly at age 40, but a doctor may recommend that these screenings begin earlier if you have certain risk factors.

If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend a BRCA test, which is a blood test that checks your DNA for mutations in certain genes which can indicate whether you're likely to develop cancer. Unlike other genetic tests, the BRCA screening is done solely for medical purposes, so it's eligible for reimbursement without a Letter of Medical Necessity (although we always advise that you check on your FSA details with your plan administrator or HR department to ensure that your plan covers all qualified medical expenses).

Other screenings, like mammograms and digital infrared thermal imaging, are also eligible for reimbursement.

Prostate cancer

Men, on the other hand, should be screened for prostate cancer. Most medical professionals recommend that screenings begin regularly by age 50, but may also suggest that screenings begin earlier if certain risk factors are present.

To screen for prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend a Digital Rectal Exam, which identifies abnormalities in the gland, as well as a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which is a blood test that measures PSA levels. Elevated levels can be a sign of cancer or an enlarged prostate. If your insurance doesn't cover any of the costs associated with these types of screenings, they should be eligible for reimbursement.

Colon cancer

Colonoscopies are done to determine whether or not polyps are present in the colon. Polyps can evolve into malignant tumors, so detecting them early on is important. Depending on risk factors, most doctors recommend that people start getting screened for colon cancer on a regular basis by age 50.

Since a colonoscopy is a preventative screening, it should be covered by your primary health insurance plan. Any additional costs will be eligible for FSA reimbursement.

Home medical essentials

Nima Gluten Sensor - Starter Kit

Know if your food is really gluten-free. Put food into a test capsule, put the capsule in the sensor, and push start. See your result in 2-3 min!

Caring Mill Digital Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

A lightweight and compact device that is easy to use on the go and to travel with.

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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.

Sun Care Center

What you should know about sun care for your lips

No matter what time of year it may be, there are certain parts of your body that will get sunburned before others if you're outdoors for an extended period of time. Your nose and the tops of your shoulders are the usual culprits, but one area we may overlook are our lips! If you've ever had a lip sunburn, you know how painful it can be, but leaving your lips unprotected from the sun's rays can pop up again in bothersome, unexpected ways.

Pay attention to chapped lips

Did you know that one of the biggest contributors to chapped, dry lips is excessive sun exposure? Chapped lips are caused by a lack of moisture in the upper skin layers of the lips, which can result in painful cracks in the skin that can be difficult to heal. According to Healthline, sun exposure can worsen chapped lips, even more if you're sunburned and dehydrated.

To stave off chapped lips and protect your lips from the sun, look for a lip balm that has moisturizing ingredients, as well as an SPF of 15 or above (AAD). Lips are also susceptible to skin cancer, more than any other area of the body. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that the lower lip is approximately 12 times more likely to be affected by skin cancer than other parts of the body, owing to its greater exposure to sunlight. So proper lip sun care isn't just about warding off a sunburn, it is a smart choice for your long-term health.

Handling a lip sunburn

If your lip care lapses on a sunny day and you end up with a lip sunburn, it's going to be a pain in a sensitive place for about 3-5 days! But luckily, most traditional sunburn remedies can help you bounce back quickly. From Healthline:

  • Cold compresses: Cold packs are surefire treatments for all forms of body inflammation and your lips are no different. If your lips are especially sensitive, wrap the compress in a towel to avoid numbing the skin.
  • Moisturizers: As tempting as it may be to use lidocaine products and other cooling sunburn treatments, the risk of ingesting them after treating your lips is too high to risk. Moisturizers are the best choice, namely those with natural ingredients like vitamin E, coconut oil, or almond oil that can jumpstart the healing process.
  • Anti-inflammatories: In addition to good old-fashioned cold therapy, a smart way to fight inflammation is to take a pain relief like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) that is a pain reliever AND an anti-inflammatory to bring down swelling.
  • Aloe vera: If you have an aloe vera plant in your home, break a branch open! The cooling gel in these plants is a natural cure for skin burns and rashes, and can provide a measure of relief for bad sunburns.

Last but not least, what to avoid:

As we mentioned above, skip the lidocaine products that you could ingest with a lip sunburn, as well as any oily products that can trap heat instead of allowing the area to heal.

But the best defense against a lip sunburn is to use lip balm with an SPF of 15 or above, and there are plenty of options to be had with your FSA funds.

Sun Care Center

Your summer of sun, sand and skin cancer prevention starts now

Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer, and there's a good chance you'll be spending time in the sun and we want to give you a gentle reminder to keep yourself - and your family - protected.

We don't have to remind you of how serious cancer is. But skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early. This is why dermatologists across the U.S. use this month's initiative to encourage people to perform self-checks all summer long.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people perform a thorough, step-by-step self-examination every month, so you can find any suspicious marks or growths. Of course, if you spot anything suspicious, see a doctor.

Early detection of a new mole or skin growth can mean the difference between a quick procedure and something potentially more serious. Remember, self-examination is only the first step. So, check early and often, and contact a doctor if something doesn't seem right.

Speaking of which, visiting the dermatologist to check for skin cancer qualifies as an FSA- and HSA-eligible service, since it would be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a medical condition.

Take advantage of free skin cancer screenings

If you can't get a dermatologist appointment in your town (or wherever you're spending the summer) within a reasonable amount of time, some doctors volunteer their time to offer free screenings throughout the year.

Programs like SPOTme, run by the American Academy of Dermatology, are available in many different locations, and can give you a thorough body check in a private setting, usually in a location nearby.

Prevention starts with you

Regular checks for skin cancer are vital, but don't overlook proper year-round sun care. If you want to use your HSA to help offset the costs of necessary sun protection products, you can pick up a wide range of HSA-eligible sunscreens, lip balms and more from our store!


Living Well

Become a skin checker

La Roche-Posay launched a "SKIN CHECKER" campaign to help people take a more active role in screening themselves and loved ones for melanoma.

Ninety percent of skin cancers are curable if detected in time.That's the main message from La Roche-Posay in its new "SKIN CHECKER" campaign in honor of Melanoma Awareness Month.The goal of the campaign is to encourage consumers to take a more active role in screening themselves and loved ones for melanoma by checking their beauty spots.

So, that means regularly checking for skin irregularities and, when in doubt, turning to a dermatologist for a closer look. Starring in the lead role of La Roche-Posay's latest campaign video are none other than two adorable Dalmatians who highlight the importance of checking beauty spots.

According to La Roche-Posay, each year 200,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide.In the U.S. alone, statistics show that one person dies every hour from melanoma. But, luckily, the odds of fighting melanoma are high as 90% of skin cancers be cured if they are detected in time. In its research across 23 countries, La Roche-Posay additionally found:

"- 1 out of 2 people never had their mole checked by a dermatologist

- 1 out of 4 people has never taken the time to check their own beauty spots."

Through the campaign,consumers can access lots of information about sun safety tips and skin cancer risks. La Roche-Posay also directs to what's known as the ABCDE method, which is a holistic approach to detecting suspicious moles on the body and urging consumers to visit dermatologists, if they're not sure about these beauty marks.

And, in its efforts to spread awareness, La Roche-Posay has created a community (online and offline) that encourages consumers to share the campaign details with friends and loved ones in an effort to fight skin cancer together and become a #SkinChecker.

Learn more details via La Roche-Posay, the Skin Checker campaign, and read about its research.

Shop for La Roche-Posay with your Flexible Spending Account at FSAstore.com