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.

Since this winter is just getting started 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.

Other eligible eye and ear care


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.

Living Well

That's Eligible?! What I learned from a 5-week head cold

I could feel the sneeze coming and tried my best to stop it. I looked up at the lights and held my breath (or is that what you do for hiccups?). My eyes started to water and I knew that the fight was over. "ACHOO!" The sound of my sneeze echoed around the conference room and before I could even apologize for the interruption to the meeting, three more sneezes left my body, "ACHOO! ACHOO! ACHOO!"

Wiping my nose, I looked around the room at my coworkers. My eyes were still watering and it felt like an elephant was stomping on my head. I offered a weak smile that looked more like a grimace as I apologized for the third interruption that day.

It was my fourth week of feeling sick and in that moment, I knew I had to face the facts: my body was stressed, tired and sick.

Now that I'm finally recovered, it's clear that I could have done things differently to avoid my prolonged cold. I may not be a medical professional (and you should always speak with one before making any changes to your health and wellness routine), but here are some valuable tips that could have worked for me to avoid some of these issues.

Seek treatment before things get bad

For the first few weeks of my head cold, I tried to ignore the pain in my nose, eyes, ears and throat. I figured that it was just a cold and it would go away with time. By week three of the head cold, I thought I would never recover. Instead of swinging from one extreme to the next like I did, it's a good idea to visit your doctor on day two or three of an illness.

Part of the reason is that your sickness might be more serious than you thought, but even if it's not, the visit is still a chance for you to check in with your doctor, gain some peace of mind and get a prescription for over-the-counter medicine so you can use your FSA to pay for it. Plus, you can use your FSA to pay for the doctor's visit.

When I finally went to the doctor sometime during week three of my cold, I found out that it was just a cold, but the peace-of-mind was worth the trip.

Regular doctor's visits

It's hard to admit this, but I haven't gone to my annual check up in years. The thing about check-ups is that when you feel healthy, they feel unnecessary. But part of the recipe for health is actually going to the check-ups, so it's the ultimate catch-22.

There's no guarantee that regular doctor's visits will prevent illness, but they do help ensure that you're generally healthy. By checking for things like vitamin deficiencies through blood work and annual wellness checks, you'll feel confident about your health. So next time you are sick, you'll know that it's just a bug and nothing life-threatening like Google might lead you to believe.

Make time for your annual doctor's visit and don't be afraid to make a doctor's appointment if you have a specific concern. The best part? You can use your FSA to pay your copay or any associated costs.

Get serious about sleep

If you don't sleep well or at all (thanks, insomnia) you might be compromising your immune system. If you struggle with sleep, you're not alone. Nearly 60 million Americans can't sleep. Whether it's anxiety, insomnia, hormones, pain or something else or altogether, it's important to find a solution.

Medicine can be a big help

I don't know what it is about medicine, but I always avoid it. (Okay, so it may have something to do with the fact that I accidentally took nighttime cold meds before a school exam once when I meant to take the non-drowsy type...)

Regardless of the reason, I was not a fan of over-the-counter medicine. But when my sneeze interrupted the meeting for the third time that day, I knew I needed to make some changes and taking medicine was my first step, specifically medicine for congestion.

The good news about over-the-counter medicine is that there are countless types to choose from. Plus, certain medications are FSA-eligible with a prescription from your doctor, like these below.

Don't ignore your mental health

Whether it's exhaustion, depression or anxiety, it's always important to prioritize your mental health. After all, without your health you have nothing. But, with the fast pace of life, it is difficult to find time to relax and unwind, even though your body needs it.

The quickest way I've found to prioritize mental health — and subsequently my physical health — is to create a routine. Whether it's using a therapeutic mask every night to help eliminate daily pains, or utilizing acupressure twice a week after your workout to stave off those aches, it's important to make healthy living and preventive care part of your daily routine.

In addition, seek professional help when you need it. If you're feeling particularly low or can't seem to shake your anxiety, make an appointment with a therapist. Don't wait until it becomes a physical ailment, too.

Bottom line

By the fifth week of my head cold, I had accepted my fate — perpetually congested, always sneezing and continually coughing. My coworkers had bought me an extra-large box of tissues that I carried around with me and we joked that I might get better in 2020. But just as suddenly as it had arrived, my head cold left. Armed with the lessons I learned, I'm ready to make sure it never comes back like this.


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.


That's Eligible?! A quick holiday health survival kit

Hear that? No, it isn't the distant sounds of jingle bells, ringing merrily for all to hear. It's the sound of the impending holidays and all that entails – a house full of family members, someone suggesting your deep-fry your holiday roast stringing up a tangled ball of lights on your roof, or Great Aunt Sally's excellent idea to gift the kids their very own set of permanent markers for the holidays.

Whether you're traveling or staying home, going to a big family gathering or keeping it small, the holidays don't only bring along a sleigh full of gifts. They can come with their very own set of aches and pains, even potential injuries. We put together a quick and easy holiday survival kit, complete with everything you need to survive the holidays in one piece – all FSA-eligible of course.

Stay healthy, stay active

We realize being active isn't hard to do this time of year -- but too much running around isn't good, either. And being sick during the holidays isn't fun for anyone. That's why you should do your part beforehand to avoid any holiday sniffles. Bone up on your medicine cabinet 101, from prenatal vitamins for expectant moms to other meds, like pain relievers and supplies for diabetes.

Don't go too far in the other direction, either. Staying active in the weeks leading up to the festivities is key, and easy to accomplish, just by taking long walks or runs, using insoles to keep you feeling pain-free when it's done. But, if you have a lingering knee or ankle injury, invest in an orthopedic brace to make regular exercise a bit more bearable.

Banish aches and pains

Every family has one: that lovely, yet extremely talkative family member who can chat for hours and hours on end, usually on a subject of their choosing. Despite your subtle attempts at escaping to the next room to score some pie, they just don't take the hint.

This scintillating conversation is usually followed by a stress headache. To be fair, whether it's brought on by the incessant chatting or the overindulgence of eggnog on your part, that's beside the point. Acetaminophen is a must-have in your FSA-eligible holiday toolkit (as long as you have an Rx). You could also try a calming acupuncture pillow and matching eye mask for pain relief once you're home, to help take the edge off.

Keep stress away

The holidays can bring about a plethora of potential stressors, whether it's from the pressure to overspend, holiday travel delays and inevitable hiccups, or complicated family dynamics at play.

Keep your stress level down with FSA-eligible acupuncture (with a letter from your doctor proving medical need, of course). Acupuncture has been known to reduce stress, but can also melt away tension in your neck and back, and can even help with digestive issues, which we all know are a common side effect of that big holiday meal.

(Fruitcake, am I right?)

Prepare for guests

If you're expecting visitors this year, be sure any elderly visitors are accommodated with FSA-eligible bathroom safety products. After all, the last thing anyone wants this holiday season is a late-night trip to the ER.

If children are a part of your household, other great items to have on hand during these hectic times are thermometers, children's cold and allergy relief, a nasal aspirator, and even band-aids. (Because kids love band-aids. It's science.)

Just don't tuck any of your FSA-eligible items into anyone's stockings, unless they're your dependents. It's a surefire way to earn a lump of coal from the IRS this season.

BrainStrong Prenatal Multivitamin Plus DHA

Vitamins and minerals to support mom's health throughout pregnancy and breast feeding.


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.


That's Eligible?! Lifting the veil off "invisible disabilities"

For many people, the word "disability" evokes images of people who use wheelchairs or canes. But here's the deal—this common perception of disabilities is severely limited. In fact, according to a recent survey, 74% of people with a disability don't use any device or aid that would serve as a visual signal that they have a disability.

Invisible disabilities can range from diabetes to fibromyalgia. Even though there are hundreds of disabilities that aren't noticeable, people with unseen disabilities are often left out of health and wellness discussions. But here's the good news: if you live with an invisible disability, your FSA funds might be able to help you deal with it.

We're not doctors, nor should any of the following be considered medical advice. But coming from our own experience, here are a few good ways your FSA can help you deal with these conditions.

If you have diabetes…

According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. In other words, if you have diabetes, you're not alone. But because diabetes is considered an invisible disability, it might feel like you are since you can't always tell if someone else has diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you probably need to buy a lot of different supplies that range from glucose monitors to insulin, and even glucose tablets. The good news is that supplies for diabetes treatment are FSA-eligible.

In fact, there are hundreds of different options to choose from. But in addition to your medically necessary medicine, it's also important to control your stress levels. Luckily, a lot of stress relieving tactics are free and only require a few minutes of your time.

Preventative care: Unfortunately, many people who have diabetes or prediabetes don't even know it. The most effective way to monitor your health and prevent diabetes is to regularly visit your doctor and get an annual wellness exam.

If you have fibromyalgia…

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disability and symptoms include widespread joint pain, nerve pain and fatigue. Most people who have fibromyalgia appear able-bodied. However, movement is usually painful and flare-ups can appear at any time.

Because there isn't a cure for fibromyalgia, the most important thing you can do is manage your symptoms. Symptoms and pain can vary, but they usually include joint, muscle and nerve pain. Because of that, FSA-eligible pain relief like heating pads, heat wraps and TENS units are often helpful for pain management.

Due to the large amount of symptoms and complex nature of fibromyalgia, it is a good idea to find a healthcare provider you trust and work together to find solutions that can help with the symptoms. Some of those solutions might include prescription medicine like antidepressants, pain medication or sleeping pills for insomnia.

Preventative care: Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is not preventable. People with fibromyalgia focus on preventing flare-ups by making sure they get adequate sleep (these products might be able to help) and regular exercise that isn't too extreme.

If you have epilepsy…

Nearly 3.4 million Americans live with epilepsy, and many more people will be diagnosed within their lifetime. Though the symptoms are often evident, it's not always the case. Like most invisible disabilities, it's impossible to tell if someone has epilepsy when you meet them.

For many people with epilepsy, the initial diagnosis can come as an upsetting shock because of the long-term implications about health and safety. But even though there isn't a cure, most people with epilepsy go on to lives that are both personally and professionally fulfilling.

If you have epilepsy, one of the most important things you can do is to diligently take your medication. If you struggle to remember to take your medication, a weekly pill organizer might be able to help. In addition to physical concerns about living with epilepsy, it's also important to take care of your mental well-being. This might mean joining a support group for people with epilepsy or working with a therapist.

Preventative care: For most epilepsy cases, there is not a clear cause. However, you can take some steps to help prevent seizures. Two of the most common suggestions are to make sure you get enough sleep at night and avoid alcohol and drug use.

Bottom line

Whether your disability is visible or invisible, it's important to prioritize your health. Regardless of what society might have you believe, every disability is valid and deserves attention, care and treatment.

Maintain your health

Medicool PenPlus Diabetic Case

This case protects all your valuable supplies. Its stylish ergonomic design makes it the perfect case for anyone.


Natural Neck Hot/Cold Wrap, Lavender

Individual comfort pockets are designed to target aches and pains, keeping beads in place for balanced hot and cold therapy.



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.


That's Eligible?! FSAs and drug-free pain management

Many Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain. While over-the-counter medication can provide relief, many people prefer a drug-free option to help manage their pain long term. As technology advances, more and more options are now available for people to find drug-free pain relief right in their own home.

Many of these treatments are eligible for FSA reimbursement, meaning you can put your tax-free dollars to work.

Hot and cold pack and wraps

Hot and cold therapy is a popular option for many different kinds of aches and pains because of their simplicity and effectiveness. Most of these can simply be heated in the microwave or left in the freezer to cool. These treatments can be used to treat a variety of ailments, from swelling and inflammation to injury relief and rehabilitation.

Athletic support tape

Brands like KT Tape allow for better muscle movement, providing support, and quickening the healing process. It's especially popular with athletes for pain relief, inflammation reduction, muscle relaxation, and injury recovery.

Many people choose to wear KT Tape during sporting events for the added muscle support and pain prevention. It is also used to help increase lymphatic drainage and improve blood flow. Because of its many benefits, KT Tape is popular with people for prevention and pain relief.

TENS units

TENS units work by using stimulating pulses to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. These units send electrical impulses to the muscles and stimulate your nerves, which works to confuse pain signals received by your brain. They also help stimulate the production of endorphins, which are a natural pain reliever. For people with chronic pain, endorphins help to eliminate the discomfort and can even work as a mood booster.

Acupressure mats

Acupressure mats are a simple and drug-free method of pain relief. All you need to do is make contact with the mat to relieve pain and tension. Most people close to either stand or lie down on them which allows the spikes on the mat to put pressure on your acu-points and relieve pain.

Additionally, acupuncture is an extremely popular form of drug-free pain management. While you can't do it yourself in your own home like the other options on this list, many people find the trip to the specialist to be well worth their while. If using your FSA, make sure to ask your administrator if they'll require any specific type of documentation, such as a Letter of Medical Necessity, to allow the expense.

Supports and braces

Supports and braces are a popular option for people who are experiencing joint pain or to assist with rehabilitation after an injury. Some athletes also use them to prevent injuries while playing sports. Braces come in many shapes and sizes to fit different joints and provide different levels of support.

Get the drug-free pain relief you need!

Kanjō Travel Acupressure Set

A simple yet effective at-home and on-the-go solution for neck, back and foot pain.


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.


That's Eligible?! Vegan-friendly, FSA-eligible health products?

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

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.

Bottom line

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.

Bare Republic Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

As clean and pure as it gets, but tough enough to keep up with all your eco-adventures!


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.


That's Eligible?! What special needs tests are covered by FSAs?

Many people don't realize just how many expenses are FSA-eligible. Unfortunately, figuring out exactly what's covered can be confusing, especially when it comes to less routine appointments like testing for learning disabilities.

The process of diagnosing and treating a learning disability can be a long and stressful process, with medical expenses that can add up quickly. Using your tax-free dollars is a great way to help lift some of the financial strain.

Here's what you need to know about how your FSA can help you and your family when testing and treatment is needed for a learning disability.

Testing for learning disabilities

The term learning disability refers to a fairly wide variety of conditions including dyslexia, dyscalculia, blindness, hearing impairments, specific congenital disabilities, autism, and nervous system disorders. Testing for many of these conditions is expensive, and it often requires more than one test for a specialist to make a correct diagnosis.

Unfortunately, your health insurance will probably only cover a fraction of these costs. The good news is that most tests that diagnose learning disabilities are considered eligible expenses.

For testing to be considered an eligible expense, it must be recommended by a doctor. And in most cases, your administrator will require a letter of medical necessity for reimbursement. This letter must detail why the testing is necessary and how it will benefit your child, as well as how long treatment is expected to last.

Treatment for learning disabilities

Treatment types will vary widely depending on the type of learning disability. So, a child with visual impairments will need a tutor to teach them braille, while a child who is deaf will need to learn lip reading and sign language.

As long as a doctor recommends therapy, education or a combination of both to help your child overcome their learning disability, these are considered eligible expenses.

Other FSA-eligible treatments for learning disabilities include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Multimodal teaching
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Assistive technology which can include items like computers, typing telephones, and magnifiers
  • Reading or mathematics tutoring

Your child's doctor may recommend more extensive treatment, like attending a school that specializes in helping children overcome learning disabilities. As long as a doctor prescribes this course of action, tuition and other associated expenses like meals and boarding are eligible for FSA reimbursement.

If your child wants to participate in extracurricular activities that aren't part of the recommended treatment, however, you'll have to cover these expenses out-of-pocket.

If you need to travel to see a specialist for a diagnosis or treatment, your can even use your FSA to help cover those costs. Expenses like gas, tolls, parking, and public transportation fares are all eligible for reimbursement, provided you get a doctor's letter.

What isn't eligible?

While you can get your child tutoring without an official diagnosis to help them overcome difficulties in school, without a doctor's letter, these costs are not FSA-eligible. And if your pediatrician ever decides that treatment is no longer necessary, yet you feel it's best for your child to keep seeing a specialist for their condition, any new expenses you incur will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Family must-haves

Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor

See real-time wellness data.

Thermal-Aid Mini Zoo Hot/Cold Bear

Clinically proven. Doctor recommended.


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.


That's Eligible?! How FSAs can benefit you and your dog

As someone who recently adopted a dog, I can admit that I fall prey to the "dog mom" stereotype. Whether it's splurging on high-quality dog food, buying doggie t-shirts or even rushing my pup to the veterinary office when she ingested a raisin (true story), it's safe to say that I consider my dog a member of the family ... and I have the receipts to prove it.

(To me, she's worth the expense.)

But here's the deal—even though she increases my happiness, my dog isn't a companion animal or service animal. She's a regular pet (who does things like steal food and dig through couches). Because of that, I can't use my FSA to pay for her expenses.

But if you have a working animal—whether it's a companion animal or a fully trained service animal—you might be able to use your FSA to pay for the pet's care and upkeep.

In honor of National Dog Day on August 26, let's take a deeper look at everything you need to know about how your FSA might be able to benefit you and your best friend.

Service animal vs. companion animal

Companion dogs and service dogs are working animals. Whether they assist with a diagnosed mental illness or help with a physical disability, companion dogs and service dogs serve a specific purpose that's associated with a diagnosed health issue.

The primary difference between a service dog and companion dog is that service dogs assist with physical disabilities while companion dogs assist with mental disabilities.

Service animals

Service dogs are specially trained to assist with various physical disabilities. This could include a service dog who provides mobility assistance for people with challenges like arthritis, paraplegia, stroke or amputation.

Hearing dogs -- animals trained to lead their hard-of-hearing owners to the source of a sound -- and guide dogs -- animals trained to to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles -- are also considered service dogs.

Service dogs are covered under ADA regulations, which means that businesses and institutions cannot refuse entry to people with guide dogs or service animals.

The IRS makes it clear that "you can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities."

Companion animals

Companion animals fall into two primary categories: dogs that are trained to assist with individual mental health needs (this includes conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and other psychological disorders) and dogs that are trained to provide comfort, support or therapy to patients in hospitals, retirement homes and other public or private locations.

Here's what the IRS has to say about companion animals: "The costs of buying, training, and maintaining a service animal to assist an individual with mental disabilities may qualify as medical care if the taxpayer can establish that the taxpayer is using the service animal primarily for medical care to alleviate a mental defect or illness and that the taxpayer would not have paid the expenses but for the disease or illness."

There are a few factors at play when it comes to whether or not your dog qualifies as a companion animal:

  1. The dog must be necessary for your health. This typically means that you have a specific, diagnosed health issue that the dog assists with, or in the case of a therapy dog, it means that the dog has a specific job.
  2. The dog's primary purpose is to help with your health.
  3. If it weren't for your health needs, you wouldn't have had to spend money on the animal.

Expenses associated with companion dogs may be eligible for reimbursement with your FSA, HSA and HRA, but you'll likely need a letter of medical necessity (LMN) from your doctor. A LMN is different than an emotional support animal letter (ESA), and just because you have an ESA doesn't guarantee that you'll qualify for a LMN.

It's about your health

Your FSA and HSA are designed to assist you with your medical expenses and health needs. If you or your qualified child or dependent need a service dog or companion dog for health reasons, then it might be a great idea to use your FSA or HSA to get reimbursed for medical expenses, care and food associated with your dog.

But if you have a regular pet, then their and upkeep are not related to your health needs and the expenses associated with your pet wouldn't qualify for reimbursement. But if you're anything like me, your dog is probably worth the extra expense.


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.


That's Eligible?! Are Fitbit and Apple Watch FSA-eligible?

Admit it, you've looked at wearable devices and thought, "THIS is just what I need to get healthy and stay on track this coming year!" No judgment - we're guilty of the same thing. And we're just as guilty of wondering if we could find one of these fun toys in our stockings tax-free.

Wearable devices are getting more popular by the day - not only for those looking to get healthy, but also for employers looking to motivate workers into staying that way. (Because healthy employees mean fewer sick days and lower costs.)

Well, even though there have been some rumblings about changes, wearable fitness devices are still not considered FSA-eligible. If devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit were specifically designed for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of a disease, this might be a different response. But general health and overall well-being aren't quite enough to make them qualify.

So, are there any alternatives?

The good news is that there are plenty of other hi-tech, FSA-eligible products that can help you stay on top of your health, using the latest technologies, including smartphone compatibility.

For example, the Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor makes keeping track of your vitals easy. Qardio measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. The Qardio is compatible with iPhone and Android, and it's light and compact, so you can easily carry it with you!

If tech-focused pain relief is your goal, then the Omron ElectroTherapy Pain Relief TENS Unit provides relief for multiple types of pain, whether you're at home, in the office or traveling. The unit relies on electrical nerve stimulation to offer relief and the small size of the unit makes it extremely portable.

And for deeper pains, maybe deep tissue light treatment is the answer. The Nuve N72 goes beyond the surface to improve blood circulation, alleviate swelling, and relax muscles. Users will enjoy near-immediate relief from pain, right at the source, within seconds of using the device.

But this is no portable heating lamp. Deep penetrating light (DPL) treatment uses an advanced form of energy to reach deep into your body, helping to heal while helping you eliminate nagging pains. The Nuve N72 has a wide range of uses, for most external parts of the body.

Of course, there are a lot of connected health products that are fully FSA-eligible. We've compiled our best, most-popular selections right here, in our Top 10 FSA-eligible products for the hi-tech health fan. And if you're looking for inspiration across the entire FSA-eligible spectrum, we encourage you to check out our comprehensive FSA Buying Guide.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.


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.