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Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Toes in the water, arches in the sand...

No, that's not exactly how the Zac Brown song goes. (This is a family publication, after all.) But for many of us, summer is just like that song -- all about bare feet, flip flops, and carefree times to wear a little and relax a lot.

Well, you may not feel it now, but summer can take its toll on your feet. If you're like us, you've walked barefoot on enough concrete and sand by mid-July that you probably don't even feel it, but your feet can end up taking a lot of abuse.

So, it might not be a "sexy" topic, but if you spend a lot of time shoeless during the summer months, you might want to read on.

Pick the right shoes

It might seem obvious, but foot care begins with footwear. As much as we all love slides and beach shoes, they're not really designed to give you the support you need for foot health.

But don't worry - we're not recommending you throw them out. Just make sure you spend some time in a good pair of sneakers, with plenty of midsole support for your arches, sturdy lacing, and outsoles with enough traction to handle different types of terrain, whether it's on sand, stone or sidewalk.

Skin care...for your feet?

You spend the entire summer protecting your skin… well, your feet need the same attention! For starters, always use a good sunscreen on your feet. But beyond that, walking on hot, rough surfaces with bare skin can leave feet achy with blisters and calluses. These can be formed from buildups of unwanted hard skin from repeated friction. Fortunately, your FSA can cover a wide range of products to help.

Corn and callus remover

From corn cushions, to callus removers, to bunion pads, your feet might benefit with some simple OTC treatment. Not to mention you can also purchase a corn and callus remover to help get rid of dead skin and keep your feet feeling baby smooth...or at least smoother than they were.

FSA-eligible topical solutions

And, while no one likes to talk about it, if you happened to get a foot fungus of some sort (public pools, we're looking at you) don't worry. These are common ailments, and FSA-eligible topical solutions can treat conditions like athlete's foot, plantar warts and other annoyances the summer may have left you with.


Foot pain

Being on your feet for long periods of time (like during hikes, volleyball tournaments, music festivals, etc.) can lead to unexpected foot pain. Instead of waiting for it to go away, be proactive about the pain and meet it head on.

Of course, your first stop needs to be to a doctor, to make sure your foot pain isn't caused by something more serious. Podiatrists can handle any number of foot and ankle problems, but not all treatments are covered by insurance plans. If not, your FSA can help offset the costs of:

  • Podiatrist appointments and checkups
  • X-rays, MRIs and lab work (including copays, coinsurance and lab fees)
  • Prescription meds
  • Orthotics and insoles

Shoe insoles and cushions

Speaking of which, once you see the doctor, they might recommend something as simple as shoe insoles and cushions to ease stress on your feet by providing ample support and cushioning for whatever might be aching.

Custom orthotics

If your foot pain is a little more severe or you've been suffering from regular discomfort, the doc will probably move you toward custom orthotics to correct the foot pain, and maybe also to alleviate possible neuromuscular and skeletal ailments. While these orthotics may cost a little more, they typically last longer and prove to be more beneficial for your foot health than a generic, "one size fits all" shoe insert you buy over the counter.

(But do your due diligence -- make sure the supports you buy are sized correctly for your feet and shoes! Otherwise, they're not doing what they're supposed to.)

As always, we're not doctors, so if you're having some foot discomfort, make an appointment and get it checked out. Because the sooner you do that, the sooner you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the season, pain-free. Whether you put your toes in the water (or anything else in the sand) is entirely up to you.

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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.


Eligibility
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

That's Eligible?! Must-haves for your baby's first road trip

My husband and I recently took our first road trip with our baby. While I had visions of listening to the perfect road trip playlist while my baby slept peacefully in his carseat, the reality was a bit different.

What was supposed to be a peaceful 10-hour road trip to visit family ended up as an 18-hour drive, replete with a minor car accident and later, a trip to the emergency room.

Don't worry, we're all fine. But we learned quickly what items and preparation were needed to make the next road trip a bit more bearable – and safe. After all, traveling with a child is anything but predictable.

A little due diligence...

Before booking a major trip, ask yourself the question: is this type of trip appropriate for my child, given his or her age, any medical conditions, or special needs? Are the necessary travel hours doable for their age? How long can they realistically be expected to sit still, whether strapped into a car seat or on a plane with hundreds of strangers?

If you've always longed to camp at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite, or dreamt of taking your little one to Paris to picnic under the Eiffel Tower, that's all well and good. But would your child enjoy it, as well? And would you realistically be able to enjoy the trip, with a baby and necessary gear in tow? (I'll go ahead and answer that for you… no.)

Say you're planning an epic cross-country road trip. You'll need to schedule ample bathroom and snack stops, and it wouldn't hurt to book a few nights at a hotel with some kid-friendly attractions, like a pool or indoor water park, either.

Same goes for flying. If you're looking at a 10-hour flight, maybe breaking it up into two flights with a layover in a fun, family-friendly city makes more sense.

Make like a scout and be prepared

No one wants to think of the worst-case scenario when planning a vacation with their family. But it happens. Case in point: During our road trip, my son scratched his cornea (darn those tiny baby nails!) and my husband and I found ourselves at the local children's hospital at 6 a.m. our second day there, with one very grumpy baby in tow.

We were fortunate that the nearest emergency room was at a top-ranked hospital, but that was pure luck. Next time, I wouldn't take that chance. Being prepared goes beyond packing a first-aid kit, white noise machine, sunscreen, and a thermometer -- most of which (with the exception of the white noise machine) are FSA-eligible, by the way.

It's a no-brainer to booking the usual hotels, rental cars, and activities for your next trip in advance. But when traveling with kids, creating a medical map is also a must. It should include the nearest hospital, urgent care, and 24-hour pharmacy at your destination, as well as those along the route.

It's also wise to call ahead to the hospital to ensure they accept your insurance, and if any emergency room visits are FSA or HSA-eligible. Add your medical map, as well as the addresses of any retailers that could ship necessary meds or first-aid supplies overnight, to a folder the contains all the details for your trip.

Another item to include in your master folder? The name and phone number of your car insurance policy, as well as details on your coverage. You know, just in case your husband backs into a pole during your epic road trip. (This is a purely hypothetical situation, of course.)

It's also wise to include printouts of your route (in case your phone's GPS doesn't work), as well as a list of intended stops, including food/fuel stations, and hours between said stops. While "winging it" may be romantic and spontaneous when you're young, the less you leave to chance with a baby, the better.

While this may see like overkill, no one wants to be frantically Googling in the middle of the night with a sick or injured child on vacation.

Caring Mill Comprehensive First Aid Kit

The Caring Mill Comprehensive First Aid Kit has everything you'll need to respond quickly in an emergency situation.

Coppertone Kids Sport Sunscreen

Coppertone Kids Sport Sunscreen is designed to support kids when they're active outside in the strong sun.

Kinsa QuickCare Smart Stick Digital Thermometer

The Kinsa QuickCare Smart Stick Thermometer offers not only fast and accurate temperature readings, but also provides personalized tips for recovery.

An ounce of prevention...

Politics aside, knowing your stuff when it comes to recommended vaccines before travel is also a must when traveling with children. Some overseas locales even require certain vaccines. Worth noting: vaccines are also FSA-eligible.

Also take into account environmental dangers to prepare for, such as wildlife or poisonous plants, even extreme heat. Be sure to get any necessary vaccinations, preventative care, or appropriate gear well in advance of your trip. And if you or your child take a daily medication, such as allergy meds, be sure to stock up beforehand.

And if this vacation is sounding more and more like work than a much-needed vacation, you're not alone. But trust me when I say that experiencing new places and sights through your child's eyes makes it all worth it... we think.

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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.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! I'm young and healthy … why would I want an FSA?

A flexible spending account (FSA) might sound something more suited for older people or individuals with chronic health conditions, but the truth is that people of all ages and health statuses might be able to benefit from opening an account.

But when I mentioned this to a former coworker he laughed in response. "You're young and healthy. You don't need one of those," he said.

I shrugged off his comment, but here's the deal—whether you're a 25 or 55, medical concerns and health problems don't discriminate. But even beyond that, it's always a good idea to save money (especially when you're young!).

Here's why it might be a smart move to open an FSA even when you're in the prime of your life.

The cost of prescription medicine

In many ways, "young and healthy" is a myth. People of all ages experience a variety of health issues that include both mental health and physical health. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly 40% of 18 to 44-year-old Americans used prescription drugs in the last 30 days. After all, just because you take prescription medicine doesn't mean you are old or have ailing health. It simply means that you take care of your health.

Whether you take prescription drugs every day or twice per year, you might be able to save money on them with an FSA. You can spend FSA funds on prescription medicine. Plus, you can use FSA money to pay for over-the-counter medicines with a doctor's prescription. You can even use your FSA for thousands of non-prescription over-the-counter items.

Copays and deductibles are eligible

A lot can happen in a year. Whether it's an unexpected surgery or a persistent cold, you might find yourself visiting the doctor more than you anticipated. Luckily, you can use FSA funds to pay for copays and deductibles.

That's great news for your bank account because it means that you will save an amount equal to the taxes you would have paid on the money you set aside. You might be young and healthy, that doesn't mean you're not young and broke too.

You set the amount

One of the best things about flexible spending accounts is that you get to determine the amount of money you contribute each year. There's a limit to how much you can add to the account—$2,700 in 2019—but you're able to contribute less.

If you're young and generally healthy, then it might be a good idea to create a list of estimated medical expenses for the upcoming year.

Remember, you can use FSA funds to pay for dental, vision and mental health visits, so estimates for those services should also be included. If you estimate your costs beforehand, it's a win-win for your bank account and your health.

"Use it or lose it" isn't as scary as it sounds

In general, you must use the money in your FSA within the plan year. If you don't, there's a chance you might "lose it" (the money goes back to your employer to help offset the costs of administering the program). But some employers offer grace periods and some employers even allow employees to roll over up to $500 per year.

But even if you end up with some extra money in your FSA at the end of the year and your employer doesn't offer any of those benefits, you don't have to "lose it." You can use your remaining FSA funds to buy FSA-eligible products, and there are thousands of FSA-eligible health items to choose from.

Of course, not all FSAs are created equal. While the IRS has defined IRS-eligible categories, employers can choose to design their FSA to cover some or all of those IRS-allowed expenses. Therefore, we advise that you always check with their FSA plan administrator or HR department about exactly what their FSA will cover.

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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.

reVive Light Therapy® Spot Portable Acne Treatment

A gentle, noninvasive way to treat existing acne flare-ups and preventing future breakouts.

Bare Republic Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

Citrus scents refresh while non-nano minerals provide chemical sun protection.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! A clearer view of sunglasses and FSAs

Yes, we're talking about sunglasses on a site about FSAs. Just so there's no confusion, let's be clear from the outset -- regular, garden-variety, discount-store sunglasses are not FSA-eligible. Even those $500 Aviators you got at the mall, with the 40-page instruction manual? Also not FSA-eligible. That is, unless those frames are fit with prescription lenses.

But don't all sunglasses protect my eyes?

On paper, it makes sense. Almost all brands tout UV protection so logically sunglasses should be FSA-eligible, right? But, even though companies promote the potential benefits of their products, they're not yet considered a qualified medical expense.

But, if you wear prescription glasses or contacts, you have a way to use FSA funds for new shades. Because prescription lenses are FSA-eligible, you can get the protection you need from UV rays and macular degeneration, as long as the lenses also provide vision correction.

In fact, as long as the lenses help correct vision, the sunglasses don't have to be prescribed (although you may want to check with you FSA administrator because each has different guidelines on what exactly they'll allow). Tinted reading glasses offer non-prescription vision correction -- even the mildest corrective aid -- meaning you can use tax-free funds to buy them.

Now that the small print is out of the way, let's find out how you can get the perfect pair of prescription sunglasses for the rest of the summer. To be sure you're getting the right pair, don't go on a hunch -- see an eye doctor to make sure everything is ideal.

Update your eye prescription

If it's been a few years since you've been to the eye doctor, make sure your next pair of sunglasses have the most updated prescription possible so you'll get the most out of your investment. You should go regularly to make sure your prescription is up-to-date.

Pick frames that suit your face

No matter what they tell you at that "hut" at the mall to make a sale, not every pair of frames is right for every face. So yeah, you might be itching for a specific pair, but an awkward frame size could be uncomfortable and might not provide the optimal protection from the sun's rays.

Do some research in-store (preferably with your eye doctor) before making a purchase online to guarantee you're purchasing frames that compliment your face's shape, while still keeping your sense of style.

Pick a lens to match your prescription

There are three primary lens materials that you can choose from when purchasing prescription sunglasses: polycarbonate, plastic and high-index. Generally, plastic lenses are for individuals with light prescriptions, while polycarbonate are similar but are impact resistant and are ideal for kids and those with active lifestyles.

Finally, high-index lenses are the lightest and thinnest of all lens types and are typically used with higher prescription levels.

Maybe it's not exactly the news you wanted, but if you're one of the millions of people who use glasses for vision correction, your FSA can get you a pretty nice pair of sunglasses. If you think you have a need, take the time to visit an eye doctor and see what options you have for upgrading your sun protection.

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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.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Getting ahead of summer heat and dehydration

Now that the calendar has flipped to June, chances are you're spending a lot more time outdoors. And that means you need to start thinking about cooling off, inside and out.

We've all been there. You're working in the garden or playing a game of pick-up basketball when you start to feel off. You're sluggish, dizzy and maybe even a little irritable (okay, a LOT irritable). Dehydration has snuck up on you again, and you never even saw it coming.

We associate dehydration with a feeling of thirst, but the two don't always go hand-in-hand. Thirst is your body's way of alerting you to low hydration levels, but you can easily get dehydrated before your body sends out the signal. By the time you feel thirsty, you're often already experiencing some of the early symptoms of dehydration.

Now, we're not doctors, but we are fans of sunny days. This summer, don't let dehydration get the best of you. Always check with a doctor before making changes to your diet and routines, but here are some tips we use to prevent dehydration, and how your tax-free funds can help.

Common causes of dehydration

As the weather gets warmer, the risk of dehydration increases. Dehydration can be a mild problem - sometimes a cold glass of water can take care of it - but it can also become an extremely serious condition that requires urgent medical care.

Common causes of dehydration include:

  • Working outdoors in the sun
  • Drinking too much alcohol (and not enough water)
  • Exercising outside or in hot environments
  • Sunbathing
  • Driving in a hot car without air conditioning

If you're already sick with a fever, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, you may become dehydrated if you're not drinking enough to replenish your fluids.

How to avoid dehydration

You can avoid dehydration by drinking water, wearing weather-appropriate clothes and taking breaks. Sip water or a sugar-free sports drink at regular intervals and avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day. Check the temperature ahead of time and try to do as much in the shade as possible.

Believe it or not, with a prescription, you can use your FSA to prevent dehydration with electrolyte replacement drinks. But don't try to sneak in some fruit punch without authorization -- you'll need a prescription from the doctor for those to be eligible with your FSA. If you often work outside and find yourself getting dehydrated, tell your doctor and they may be willing to write a prescription.

Some first-aid kits also have electrolyte solutions, which you can dissolve in water to create your own drinks on the go. These are useful to keep in the car or bring with you if you're hiking or going on a long road trip.

No matter how you pack your kit, the important thing is to have one, and have it handy, with everyone in your family educated on how to use it in case of an emergency.

How to get ahead of dehydration

The good thing is that despite the extreme circumstances that can result from dehydration, relieving it can often be a simple process. Try to drink some water or a sports drink with electrolytes if possible. Find a cool place to sit or lie down. Take a break from whatever you're doing or stop for the day if possible.

If you're dehydrated, you could also be overheating. Use the same cold packs you'd put on a swollen knee or hurt back to cool yourself down. Popsicles or ice are also good for both dehydration and overheating.

If you're still struggling, feeling weak, dizzy or confused, seek immediate medical help. Anyone with a fever over 103 degrees should be immediately taken to a hospital.

You can use your FSA to cover a visit to urgent care, the emergency room or your primary care doctor. If they prescribe something or run tests to determine the severity of your dehydration, those will also be covered.

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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, YouTube and Twitter.

Sun Care Center

Sunscreen is a year-round need [VIDEO]

The calendar might say summer but what you might not know is that harmful UVA and UVB rays can affect your skin all year round, no matter where you live! This includes cloudy days, and even when it's snowing! In other words, regardless of the weather, be sure to have sunscreen at the ready.

In this edition of our growing video series, our Consumer Education Specialist Lena Moriarty gives you a quick and thorough look at why sunscreen is FSA-eligible, and what requirements it needs to meet to make the list. Check it out!

Stay tuned to the FSAstore.com Learning Center for more helpful videos coming down the line!

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen SPF 30 Spray

Get superior skin protection from harsh summer elements.

Bare Republic Tinted Mineral Face SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

Fight the sun with this lightweight and non-whitening, mineral face sunscreen.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Allergy season isn't over for everyone

Compared to 2018, this year's allergy season has been a relative breeze. We haven't seen any horrifying videos of trees exploding with pollen. And most people have adjusted to the warmer air with minimal trouble.

But for many (including this author), allergies remain an ongoing problem, leading to coughing, sneezing and sore throat, well into the summer months. So, unless you choose to stay indoors all summer, we recommend facing allergies head on. And there are FSA-eligible products that can help you get ahead of these summer irritations.

Since Memorial Day is coming up this weekend, let's take a closer look at some items to make things a little easier once cookout season starts.

Steam inhalers

With so much warmth and humidity in the air each summer, it seems weird that anyone would want a machine that provides more warm, humid air. But the bottom line is that they're a huge help for alleviating summer allergy, cold and flu symptoms.

There are plenty of FSA-eligible steam inhalers for both adults and children that can help open nasal passages, and clear the nasty buildup that causes sore throats and stuffy heads, while also alleviating some of the pain that comes with them.

Hot and cold packs

Sometimes the best way to attack your allergy problems is from the outside in. Through simple hot or cold compresses (which come in a wide range of shapes and styles) people find all-natural relief from sinus headaches, nasal pressure and sore throat pain, just by holding them against the affected areas.

Pain and allergy medications

There's a huge range of allergy medications available that do a good job getting you through stuffy noses, sneezing, scratchy, dry throats and more. And when your sore throat moves beyond comfortable levels, standard pain medications usually do the trick for longer-term relief. To ease things a little more quickly, medicated throat lozenges can make a world of difference, too.

Please note: Pain relief medications and throat lozenges will require a prescription to be FSA-eligible. But our Rx Process isn't difficult at all, and if you find yourself using these products all season long, think of the savings your FSA can provide! Check out our complete Eligibility List to see if the products you need require a prescription.

Mattress and pillow covers

There's a chance your ongoing sore throat might actually be coming from inside your house. On top of pollen and other environmental allergens, dust mites also become a bigger problem during spring and summer months. No, it's not a comfortable topic, but these microscopic annoyances thrive in warmer summer weather, and can keep your allergy problems going well into fall.

Anti-allergy mattress and pillow covers put a barrier between you and the dust and germs beneath the surface, and help contain them, to help reduce your symptoms.

Allergies are a topic we cover quite a bit, because they continue to affect many people, long after the "season" ends. Thankfully, there are a lot of products available to make it easier on you all summer long.

If your symptoms don't improve or become more severe, speak with an allergist to ensure medications and treatments are right for your symptoms. To locate an allergist, visit the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website for a list of specialists near you.

Steam Inhalers

Steam inhalers provide pure, therapeutic, warm mist effectively free from germs, allergens, and pollutants.

Hot Packs

Hot packs provide long lasting therapeutic heat to relieve minor muscle aches.

Allergy Relief

From Over-the-Counter tablets to saline spray to nasal rinse, relief from allergies is right around the corner.

Throat Lozenges

Cold remedy throat lozenges will have you feeling better, sooner.


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, YouTube and Twitter.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Using FSA dollars for eye care

Considering nearly two out of every three Americans wear prescription glasses, it's surprising there's so much confusion around the FSA eligibility of eye wear and vision care. What's even more surprising is why more Americans aren't using their tax-free funds to pay for the products and services necessary to maintain proper eye health. And we're not just talking eyeglass repair kits and lens wipes -- there are some seriously surprising eye care items on our Eligibility List.

After a winter that wouldn't quit, it seems like spring has finally arrived, so let's get ahead of your eye care and protection so you can make the most of the outdoors in the months ahead.

Contact lenses? Yes!

Let's be clear: there are plenty of places to buy contact lenses. But how many of them allow you to choose from a huge range of brands, entirely with your FSA, without wondering if the ones you want are eligible. Maybe we're a little biased, but we think you'll enjoy buying your contacts this way. (Oh, and when you pay with your FSA card, you can skip the receipts process!)

Prevention starts with protection…

No, we're not talking about high school health classBut the same thinking applies. According to a survey from The Vision Council, 75% of American adults in a survey are concerned about UV eye exposure, but only 31% report wearing sunglasses when going outside.

And cloudy days aren't much safer than sunny ones; you can still do some damage when it's overcast, because UV rays break through clouds and can damage unprotected eyes. Prescription sunglasses are FSA-eligible, so what's stopping you from being smarter than the 69% of people who leave their eyes unprotected?

Some lesser-known eye care options

We've used plenty of digital ink showing how laser eye surgery (more commonly known as LASIK) is completely eligible for FSA and HSA reimbursement. And we hope people are realizing that LASIK surgery is often inexpensive enough to cover entirely with their flexible spending funds.

It's not limited to LASIK, either. Medically necessary treatments and routine eye exams are all part of FSA eligible vision care.

Now, for arguably the most surprisingly eligible vision care expense of all -- guide dogs. The National Federation of the Blind has a list of guide dog schools that can connect you or your loved ones with the right service animal, should you need assistance getting around because of visual impairment or blindness.

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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.

Eligibility
Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

Flex-Ed: How FSAs can benefit new moms

This Sunday is Mother's Day, a day to celebrate and thank all the mothers in our lives. And that includes the moms who just got started, navigating life with a newborn and all a new child entails – sleeping, soothing, and feeding their brand-new family member.

Do you know how much breastfeeding costs? It's free, right? Well, not so fast.

While breastfeeding may allow you to save on formula, the costs associated with breastfeeding are many, from breast pads to nipple guards to nursing bras, just to name a few. You may even opt to purchase a breast pump, which is usually covered by insurance (but not necessarily the model you want).

But there are some little-known breastfeeding-related items that are eligible for flexible spending account (FSA) reimbursement, giving new moms the opportunity to save big. Here are a few of the breastfeeding necessities covered by your FSA (with some notes on which ones aren't).

Prenatal vitamins – The name may imply otherwise, but prenatal vitamins are still recommended for breastfeeding women. Good news: prenatal vitamins and glucosamine are two of the only vitamin types approved for FSAs.

Breast pumps – While your insurance will likely cover a bulk of the cost, you may be left with a remaining balance, especially if you choose a nicer model, like one that comes in a nondescript bag for toting to and from work. But you're in luck -- the IRS lists breast pumps as a qualifying medical expense.

Storage bottles – Yes, you still need bottles when you breastfeed. Here's why: Many pumps require a bottle to catch the expressed milk from pumping. Also worth noting is most mothers pump at some point if they plan to return to work or spend more than a few hours away from baby. One thing to keep in mind -- storage bottles are FSA-eligible, but bottles used just for feeding are usually not. Be sure to check with your administrator if you have any questions.

Extra pump parts – Because no two people are the same, standard breast shields that come with your breast pump may not fit correctly. This means you'll have to purchase a smaller or larger shield. Yes, they make them in different sizes, and no, they aren't cheap. You may also need to replace some of the pump's other parts, like the membranes or tubing. But you're in luck. According to the IRS, supplies that assist lactation, such as pump replacement parts, are also covered.

Milk storage bags – A must-have for the breastfeeding mom if she plans to pump or be away from her baby for any longer period of time.

Disposable nursing pads/ nipple shields – No one likes a leaker. So, it's a good thing breast pads are FSA-eligible. Trust me, you'll need them. Nipple shields fall under the supplies that aid in lactation category, making them a qualifying expense.

Support pillows – Breastfeeding pillows (like the Boppy) are not FSA-eligible, though most moms say they're must-haves. That said, an orthopedic neck support pillow might be comforting for new moms during some of those late nights and early mornings.

Nursing bras, tops, covers, or other apparel – Bad news. Nursing bras, shirts, and other apparel are not qualifying expenses for your FSA. (The exception? The hands-free bras used for pumping, though it's not designed for use as an everyday bra.) So, wait for sales, because those bras are expensive.

Now if only your FSA could pay for a night nurse. But, with any luck the above list will save you some money through tax-free spending, freeing up some cash to pay for those other child-related expenses. You know ... like college.

Prenatal Vitamins

Get everything you need to support your little one with prenatal vitamins.

Breast Pumps

Pumping made easy for moms everywhere. Choose from electric or manual for a personalized pumping experience.

Nursing Pads

Absorbent, ultra-soft nursing pads help keep nursing pain at bay while preventing leakage.

Breast Pump Accessories

From milk storage to pump cleaner, FSA-eligible breast pump accessories are guaranteed to keep mommy (and baby) happy.



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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.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! 3 FSA-eligible ways to improve home air quality

"Air pollution" is typically associated with large, industrial cities, but the truth is the air in your home might be even more polluted than outdoors. According to a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is a top environmental concern and can have serious health implications. Taking steps to control the air quality in your home can ultimately reduce your risk of related health concerns.

Luckily, there are some simple solutions that can improve at-home air quality. The best part? The following options just might be FSA-eligible, and worth investigating if your medical needs meet the requirements. In other words, you may be able to decrease air pollution in your home and save money. It's the ultimate win-win.

Air purifiers

Air purifiers work to decrease contaminants in a room, and they're especially beneficial for people with allergies or asthma. However, air purifiers also help to increase air quality, decrease pet dander and heal skin irritations. The stronger types of air purifiers are standalone purifiers and those that connect to larger air conditioning units.

Depending on your needs you may want to select a purifier that's designed to handle the specific source of your air quality concern. Whether that's pet dander, smoke, pollen, or even cooking odors. But always remember, the primary requirement for a good air filter is a high "Clean Air Delivery Rate."

Verdict: FSA-eligible with a letter of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider. Note: Not all administrators will allow for this and it depends on your medical condition.

Air conditioners

One of the best ways to improve air quality in your home is by controlling the moisture. Here's how it works—mites and mold thrive in dark, damp places, so if you have a bathroom or basement that isn't properly ventilated, there's a good chance that the moisture in those rooms are negatively affecting your air quality.

Air conditioners with clean filters can help your house stay dry and properly ventilated throughout the entire year. For people who live in warmer climates, air conditioning units can help ensure you keep your windows closed during the heat.

Open windows allow pollen and other allergens to enter your home and harm the air quality. If you're looking to add central air conditioning, it's important to note this: Only the amount spent above the value added to the house is eligible for a reimbursement claim through your FSA.

Verdict: FSA-eligible with a letter of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider.

Air filters

One of the most important things you can do to improve air quality in your home is to regularly change your air filters. If you don't have pets, you should change your air filter every 90 days. If you have one pet, the filter should be changed every 60 days. If you have more than one pet or struggle with allergies, the air filter should be changed every 30 days.

Another way to improve the air quality in your home is with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These filters have a special mesh that traps mites, dust, and other particulars that can make it difficult to breathe properly.

Verdict: FSA-eligible with a letter of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider.

If you plan to use your FSA to pay for the products above, we recommend that you check with your FSA administrator first to see what they'll allow, and what paperwork is required to make it happen.

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That's Eligible?! How I got serious about spring skin protection

Did you know that Florida has the highest skin cancer rate in the country? That's why when my family moved to the Sunshine State, I knew it was time to start taking my skin health seriously -- especially this time of year.

You might already know that sunscreen is FSA-eligible. But did you know that trips to the dermatologist, protective lip balm, even some sunscreen/bug spray combos are also on the eligible list? Here's how to form healthy skin care and protection health habits – without skipping the sunshine altogether.

Use sunscreen everyday (no skipping)

I knew it was time to change my skin protection habits when I'd make it a habit to cover my son in sunscreen from head to toe before we went to the park, beach, or zoo – but I'd completely forget to cover myself.

Now, I keep a basket of sunscreen by my front door. Baby sunscreen for him, and sunscreen and protective lip balm for me. We also both usually wear hats when outdoors, which the CDC says can help reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Find the right sunscreen

Sunscreen is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Take advantage of the many FSA-eligible sunscreen options, from mineral sunscreens to quick-drying formulas, even extra-hydrating options.

While some busy parents buy a jumbo bottle of sunscreen and slather it on the whole family, most sunscreens are too strong or irritating for a young child's skin. Experts recommend that kids' sunscreen be SPF30+, have UVA and UVB ray protection, and is water-resistant.

Another reason it's important that you find a sunscreen just right for your little one? Just one blistering sunburn during childhood can nearly double skin cancer rates.

Invest in other types of sun protection

Your sunscreen options aren't just limited to sprays and lotions. Stock up on protective sun clothing for the whole family. Many retailers offer sun shirts, bathing suits and sun hats with SPF50 or higher, offering one more layer between your skin and the sun's damaging rays.

Also worth considering? High-quality sunglasses that offer UV protection for your eyes. Prescription sunglasses are eligible, as long as the lens also provide vision correction. And don't forget about your lips. Protective lip balm is another FSA-eligible way to keep your skin in top shape this summer.

If you want more bang for your buck, try investing in an SPF15+ sunscreen/bug repellent combo. Since bug spray alone isn't covered by your FSA, this is a great chance to kill two birds (er, bugs?) with one stone.

Always turn to the professionals

No, we're not talking about professional sunbathers. One of the most important steps you can take to take care of your skin is to visit your dermatologist at least once a year for a skin cancer screening. During the screening, your doctor will check for changes in size, shape, or color of moles or freckles, or look for other changes in your skin, which could be an early sign of skin cancer.

If the idea of stripping down to your skivvies and letting a stranger inspect your moles at close range doesn't top your to-do list, keep the facts in mind. It might just save your life.

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That's Eligible?! A little more clarity on FSAs and contact lenses

A while back, we covered some surprisingly eligible ways you can use your FSA to care for your eyes. But we realized that contact lenses probably deserved a little more discussion.

Contact lenses, like eyeglasses or LASIK, can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. About 20% of Americans who need their vision corrected wear contact lenses. Contact lenses can provide a full field of unobstructed vision, which is great for being active and participating in sports.

And with good reason -- the National Eye Institute encourages everyone to get an annual eye exam. But what happens if you need glasses or want contacts? Can you use your FSA to pay for them?

How do I choose the best contact lenses for me?

Most eye care centers provide several options for contact lenses. But there are a few factors to consider when choosing the right type of lenses for you. First -- what is the physical material of the contact lenses? Traditional soft contact lenses provide the best comfort and adjust quickly when put in.

But you might also consider harder, gas-permeable (GP) lenses which usually require a little adjustment before they become comfortable. However, GP lenses provide better vision because they have a hard, polished surface that doesn't rip as easily as soft ones. Over time, this could mean real cost benefits.

Are all types of contacts covered?

In essence,if contacts are designed to correct vision problems, they are FSA-eligible. Though insurance companies might have their own policies regarding coverage of specific types or brands of lenses, all are fully 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.

So, what isn't covered?

If you're looking to use contact lenses purely for cosmetic purposes -- for example, trying a new eye color, adding to a sick Halloween costume, scaring your neighbors, etc. -- then you can't use your FSA to pay for them.

They may be fun and exciting, but they have no corrective purpose, so they don't make the cut. Don't feel slighted, though -- products and services designed only for cosmetic purposes are never FSA-eligible.

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That's Eligible?! Spring break health essentials for teens and kids

Spring break is normally associated with long days at the beach and lots of sun, but for working parents the reality is much different. For parents with school-aged children, spring break is a hectic time when childcare is up in the air. Instead of spending eight hours at school everyday, kids are suddenly free for a week or two.

In other words, childcare is suddenly a concern. But there's some good news for parents with school-aged kids — your flexible spending account (FSA) and dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) might be able to help. Here's some things to know about spring break health essentials for teens and kids.

Consider day camps for children under 13

If your child is normally at school while you're at work, then spring break throws a wrench into your usual routine. Instead of panicking and hiring a babysitter, consider a day camp instead. Day camps can include anything from sports camps to learning how to code. Regardless of what your kids are interested in, you'll be able to find something that interests them. Plus, zoos often offer both day and night camps for kids.

The best part is that you might be able to use your dependent care flexible spending account to pay for it. Depending on your tax bracket, that might mean you'll get a savings of 20% or more on spring break camp expenses because you do not have to pay taxes on DCFSA-eligible expenses.

There are a few rules for using DCFSA funds to pay for day camps. For example, kids under 13 years old are eligible and the parent (that's you) needs to be working full-time, in school full-time, or trying to find a job. In other words, stay-at-home parents can't use a DCFSA to pay for day camps.

Make doctors appointments for your teenager

Whether it's a physical your kid needs for high school spring sports, acne treatment from a dermatologist or the annual checkup that's been forgotten, spring break might be the perfect time to get your teenager up to date on their appointments.

Even though you might have to take time off of work to go with him or her, you don't have to worry about coordinating your work schedule with his or her school schedule. Instead, you can make appointments for the time that suits you best. Plus, you can use your FSA for copays or prescription costs.

Get eye exams before the summer rush

A lot of parents wait until summer to schedule doctors' appointments, but the truth is that spring break is actually easier. It's a shorter time period and every school district is on a different schedule, so doctors' offices won't be as busy. If your child is due for an eye exam, or has complained that his or her glasses no longer feel right, then spring break might be the perfect time to visit an optometrist.

You can use your FSA to pay for the visit, and you can use it to pay for prescription sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses may seem like a luxury but they're a necessity for teenagers who have a driver's license, especially during sunny summer months, which are right around the corner.

Bottom line

If you're stuck at the office while your kids are on spring break, don't fret. There are plenty of FSA- and DCFSA-eligible ways for you to create a healthy and happy spring break for your kids or teens, and help you save money along the way.

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That's Eligible?! Allergy season is coming and your FSA is nothing to sneeze at

Allergy sufferers, unite. No one understands our pain like another sneezing, sniffling, watery-eyed counterpart. While you may be dreading the upcoming pollen – I mean, spring – season, there are ways to help lessen the allergy blow. (See what I did there?)

As always, first see a doctor before changing your medication routine. But if you're one of the 50 million Americans who deals with allergies each year, you might have some success with our own FSA-eligible fixes. Speaking of doctors...

Get tested

First, you need to establish what you're actually allergic to. Allergy testing, while sometimes tedious, can be a great way to figure out your allergy triggers and help you avoid – or treat – them in the future.

Keep in mind that an allergy test usually isn't done during an initial visit. You'll likely have to visit your general practitioner, who will refer you to an allergist if your allergy symptoms aren't eased by over-the-counter medication. During your first visit with the allergist, he or she will delve into your family history and your allergy symptoms before jumping to any allergy testing.

Allergy testing, which is both FSA- and HSA-eligible, can be done in one of three ways: via skin prick test, during which a small needle is inserted into the forearm or lower back. This test can detect allergic reactions of 40+ allergens, ranging from pollen to mold to pet dander, even common foods.

A skin injection test is similar to a skin prick test, in that a small amount of an allergen is injected under the skin, then examined 15 minutes later to check for a reaction. This test helps detect allergies to substances like penicillin or bee stings.

Patch testing is another method. It's used to detect contact dermatitis, which means that you have a reaction when your skin touches a certain allergen. If you opt for this test, you'll wear a patch with 20-30 allergenic extracts to determine what you'll allergic to. These patches are worn for 48 hours and test for allergies to latex, dyes and even fragrances.

Steam inhalers

Before diving into medications (which require a prescription for eligibility), consider treating your allergy symptoms with something as simple as warm, humid air. These simple machines can work wonders on clearing stuffy nasal passages and soothing congestion throughout your head.

There are plenty of FSA-eligible steam inhalers for both adults and children that can help open nasal passages, and clear the nasty buildup that causes sore throats and stuffy heads, while also alleviating some of the pain that comes with them.

Get the right medications

Let's say you've established your allergens. (For me, it's a combination of pollen, dust, and the dreaded feline friend.) Now, it's time to tackle treatment. Good news. Allergy medications are also FSA-eligible with a prescription.

Allergy medications take many forms: pills, nasal sprays, inhalers, even eye drops. You've likely heard the term antihistamine. But do you know what histamine actually is, and why you're trying to avoid it?

Basically, histamine is a substance produced by your body when it comes into contact with an allergen, like pet dander. Histamine is what causes those trademark allergy symptoms. You know, the sneezing and itchy, watery eyes that make your life miserable come spring.

The most common types of allergy medications include:

  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines prevent the effects of histamine by blocking receptors throughout your body.
  • Decongestants: These fight off nasal congestion and act as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Steroids: These prevent allergy symptoms from cropping up by blocking the body from creating histamine.
  • Bronchodilators: Also known as inhalers, these help treat any breathing problems that may crop up as a result of allergies.

Ask your doctor about air filters

If you know that you're allergic to dust, pollen, or pet dander, then you may want to start with the air inside your home. An air purifier can help rid the air of contaminants. Your FSA or HSA may be able to cover all or a portion of an air purifier if you have a medical need. Speak with your benefits administrator if you think this type of expense is one that may qualify in your situation.

When is the last time you changed your home's air conditioning filter? If you can't remember, then it's probably been too long. Changing out your A/C unit's air filter can help rid your home's air of potential allergens. In fact, researchers have found that air filtration is recommended for those who suffer from allergic respiratory diseases, like asthma.

But notice that we said "may qualify" -- without an explicit medical need, verified by a doctor, filters are rarely deemed eligible. Still, that's not a "no" … just a reason to explore more options than only the obvious remedies.

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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.