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Basics

Podcast-Eligible: New Host, New Open Enrollment Strategies

We're finally back - and with a new co-host! Sean and his new partner Brad tackle what to look out for this open enrollment season and what all FSA/HSA users should know before they contribute this season! We also have a sit down with personal finance writer Zina Kumok, who provides firsthand tips for HSA users.

Also, we add a roundup of our favorite product picks and the usual banter you've come to expect from Podcast Eligible.


This episode's product picks

Caring Mill Back to School Bundle

This set offers great products that can be used daily for any household or family.

$54.99

PainCakes Wrap Stickable Cold Pack

Fast, cooling relief from pain and discomfort, in one easy to use application.

$13.99

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And as always, 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

5 ways to buy quality, authentic products online with FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com

It's hard to imagine, but there was a time – not THAT long ago – when shopping online wasn't something everyone did. But just because most of the world is doing it doesn't mean it's always safe to buy health and wellness products online.

There are plenty of quality, trustworthy retailers out there. But there are just as many potential risks waiting for unsuspecting buyers. Customers need to be smarter and more diligent when researching websites, and more aware of product quality and authenticity, so they don't end up spending real money on counterfeit, or even dangerous merchandise.

Here are some steps we find helpful to ensure customer safety.

1. Avoid questionable or "new" sellers

If you've shopped on any major retail website over the last few years, you've probably noticed that a number of products are being sold on behalf of third-party sellers. While this definitely increases the odds of finding something to buy, it also increases the likelihood that these products aren't exactly what you're looking for.

Because these third-party sellers aren't usually subject to the same quality standards, you're not guaranteed to receive authentic products, meaning you could be buying older, expired or even counterfeit items.

Another red flag to consider is how "new" a third-party seller is. While every company needs to start somewhere, if they just launched their business last week and already have a slew of shiny reviews, something isn't quite right.

All products from FSA Store and HSA Store come to us directly from the manufacturer and are all vetted for quality and authenticity. It's getting easier for counterfeiters to get these products past customs, which makes our purpose even more important. In short – if it's not 100% guaranteed authentic, it's not going to appear on our site.

2. Know how to spot fake reviews

Online reviews used to be an easy way to gauge a product's value and effectiveness. Real people, giving real accounts of their experiences. But, as less-scrupulous companies started to figure out how to "game" the web, bogus reviews started populating product pages, and before long, it was near-impossible to determine which thoughts were authentic, and which were fabricated by a machine from some nondescript location.

But, if you have a sharp eye, you can figure out which reviews are fake, and which are worth your attention. For starters, grammar, phrasing and details can tell you a lot. If there are a lot of poorly written reviews that say things like, "This was great. Solved my problem..." without offering any proof they actually used the product? Yeah, that doesn't really instill a lot of confidence.

If you want to dive a little deeper, check the review dates. If you notice a flood of glowing 5-star reviews all processed within a short, specific date range, there's a really good chance they're not coming from real customers. (That would be an amazing coincidence, wouldn't it?)

All of our customer reviews are processed through Trustpilot, a leading consumer review website which hosts reviews for businesses throughout the world. And we have more than 25,000 of them, unedited and uncensored, giving our customers full transparency at all times.

3. Unbelievable deals usually ... well ... are

Growing up, you might have heard, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is..." Maybe it seems a little cynical, but there's a reason this statement has stood the test of time – it usually holds up.

We offer valuable sales, discounts and member perks whenever possible. But in order to guarantee top-tier quality and customer service, we can't offer those unreal "80% off" blowouts. Because authentic quality costs more, for all parties involved.

According to a 2015 Fraser report, the counterfeit pharmaceutical market may exceed $200 billion annually -- only slightly less than the $246 billion illicit drug trade.

If you see a health care product being offered at an unusually large discount, there's a strong possibility it's counterfeit, expired or even recalled. Is a good price worth risking potentially serious health concerns? We don't think so. And we work directly with manufacturers to ensure everything on our site meets and exceeds these standards.

4. A picture is worth a thousand sales

It seems strange to mention this, but whenever you shop online, take a few seconds to really analyze the product photo(s) on the purchase page. Yeah, we live in a world filled with Photoshop experts, but sharp eyes can still spot a bogus picture.

For starters, does the photo look appropriately high-resolution? Or does it look like it was "right-clicked" from another page? Is it accurate to the product description? Or is the image a general brand logo? These are two signs that indicate your seller might not be selling authorized products.

At FSA Store and HSA Store, all of our product images are either provided directly from the manufacturer or are taken in our in-house studio. In other words, what you see on our sites is what you'll receive in your shipment.

Why are images important? Because it gives customers a proper expectation of what they'll receive, so there's no confusion. Falsified packaging and potential safety seal issues only magnify the problem -- a problem that seems to be growing worldwide.

5. Consider your health and well-being

Authenticity has to be a top concern when buying health care products. For example, if you're looking to buy high-end sun- and skin-care products, you definitely want to know if they're authentic before using them on your face and hands every day. The wrong ingredients used can enter your bloodstream and wreak havoc.

Now imagine spending hard-earned money on counterfeit pain relief products – even medications – which could potentially have serious consequences if the ingredients aren't right for your needs.

Obviously, there's a ton of upside in buying health care products online. But consider the source, and the potential risk of buying and using counterfeit items. That's why we're offering these tips as a reminder on how to do it safely and effectively, through sites like ours, so the only thing you need to worry about is getting -- and staying -- healthy.


Eligibility

Asked and Answered: Can I use my FSA for learning disability testing?

When it comes to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) the lion's share of the coverage goes to general health products. And that's understandable, considering how great they are for providing your family with wellness products, tax-free.

But one area that may deserve more coverage is the FSA-eligibility of mental and behavioral well-being. There might be some confusion about the subject, so let's find out how your FSA can benefit anyone in your family currently experiencing learning disabilities.

What's learning disability testing (and is it FSA-eligible)?

Let's lead with the good news -- in most cases, testing to diagnose learning disabilities is FSA-eligible. This is because learning disabilities fall under the wide range of conditions and treatments that meet standard FSA requirements. Some administrators may need a letter of medical necessity (LMN) from a doctor before granting eligibility.

Examples of testing for learning disabilities include diagnosing mental and physical hurdles, like neurological issues, vision impairment, hearing problems, birth defects, head injuries, ADHD and dyslexia.

Let's look at that last one, since dyslexia is a common diagnosis, impacting around 15-20% of both children and adults in the U.S, affecting their ability to read and speak. While there isn't a cure, tutoring and educational therapy is a common and effective treatment.

But many parents and guardians don't realize dyslexia testing and treatment is FSA-eligible with an LMN. The letter needs to explain why the condition requires treatment, how the treatment will improve the condition, and how long the treatment will last.

Education and developmental services

What many FSA owners might not know is that education and developmental treatment are also eligible, as long as the programs are used for overcoming a learning disability, not just for behavioral issues. And like other conditions that may require an LMN, once a doctor determines the treatment isn't necessary anymore, your FSA no longer applies.

But if this sounds like your situation, you should definitely ask about FSA reimbursement for tuition for special needs schooling, specialized coaching, or any program that helps a child overcome a learning disability caused by mental or physical impairments. These programs may include:

  • Early childhood intervention
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Patterning exercises
  • Sensory integration training

In each case, the costs of these treatments are eligible for reimbursement, as long as a doctor has made the recommendation. You might find your FSA is able to cover costs of braille lessons, remedial language development training, or even enrollment into specialized schools that can better serve the needs of your child.

Diagnosing and treating learning disabilities can be tough, which is why anyone facing them should see if potential therapies are FSA-eligible, so they can focus more on overcoming these hurdles and getting the treatments their families need.

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From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

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.

Sun Care Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take advantage of free skin cancer screenings

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

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

Prevention starts with you

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


Sun Care Center

How to perform regular skin checks

With spring here in full swing and summer just around the corner, you and your loved ones' time in the sun will increase significantly and it's time to take the proper precautions. It's a good time to remind individuals and families to be mindful of the risk of the most common form of cancer in the United States - and the most preventable cancer type!

As important as utilizing broad spectrum sunscreens when spending time in the direct sunlight is for preventing skin cancer, regular skin checks are pivotal for early detection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer growths that are found and removed early are almost always curable, so as the weather gets warm, skin checks are a necessity. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Dermatology that can help you get started!

What to look for

There are 5 key characteristics to look for that could be trouble signs of skin cancer growth. Skin cancer growths showcase asymmetry - or one half is unlike the other half - have an irregular, poorly defined border and varying color shades. Melanomas are typically larger than 6 millimeters, but another warning sign to look out for is a continual evolution in its shape and color that show that the growth is progressing.

Use a full-length mirror

Every skin cancer check should start with a full body exam in a full-length mirror. This will allow you to examine your body from front to back to check for any questionable dark spots or moles that could be the early signs of cancer. Additionally, be sure to lift your arms when checking your sides to ensure an unobstructed view.

Check hard-to-reach spots

One of the risks of melanoma is that it can form on unexpected places on the body, so make sure your skin check is as thorough as possible! Some spots to keep in mind are forearms, palms, the backs of legs/feet, spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.

Utilize a hand mirror

Last but not least, there are a few spots on your body that you should closely inspect with a hand mirror. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with the mirror, and part your hair to check the underlying scalp for any marks or imperfections that may be present. This is also a good opportunity to check your lower back and buttocks as well.

What should I do if I spot a growth?

If you spot a growth that showcases the characteristics of melanoma, don't wait! Make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately to have it checked and removed if necessary!


Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen

Work and play the day away without worrying about sunburn.

Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Continuous Spray

Protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays while enriching your skin with Vitamin E.

Sun Care Center

Top 10 FSA-eligible products for year-round sun and skin care

As you probably know by now, sun and skin care is a year-round concern. But you can keep these problems away if you use a few precautions. And sun or snow, you're always at risk of getting rays directly from the sun, and UV hitting you from all directions. Science!


Supergoop! Day To Day Value Set


Let's get right to it -- if you're looking for complete, year-round sun and skin care this Supergoop! kit is a great place to start. Inside, you'll find everything you need to easily incorporate sun protection into your day-to-day routine, for complete sun protection throughout your day.

And we mean "complete" -- the set includes: City Sunscreen Serum, Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream, Forever Young Hand Cream, AcaiFusion Lip Balm, Everyday Sunscreen and even a zippered "Hello, Sunshine" pouch.

Australian Gold Lip Balm

You might have noticed lip balm in the previous entry - that's because your lips are as prone to sun damage as any other part of your skin. Not only do FSA-eligible lip balms keep them hydrated, but they also offer high SPF protection for the coverage you need year-round.

Australian Gold SPF 30 Lip Balm is comprised of regional fruits, coconut oil, natural moisturizers and more, without using parabens, PABA or even gluten, making it safer for a wider range of users.

Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen Spray

If you're looking for complete sun protection without resorting to chemicals and unnecessary additives, mineral sunscreens are a very popular choice. Not just because they're skin- and earth-friendly, but also because they work really well without all the excess you don't need.

Sun Bum's Mineral Sunscreen Spray is an easy to apply, water-resistant, zinc-based spray that provides broad spectrum SPF30 protection, proven to fight off UVA/UVB rays. Environmentally conscious and chemical-free without sacrificing protection? Sign us up.

Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Stick

If you want a little more control over where your sunscreen is applied, take a closer look at the Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Stick. This lightweight, antioxidant-enriched formula glides on evenly and absorbs quickly to provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection while being hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free.

Plus, this light, water-resistant (for up to 80 minutes!), non-greasy formula contains antioxidants and vitamins to soothe and help skin recover after sun exposure.

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sun Continuous Spray

When it comes to sunscreens, the word "lightweight" is used a lot. And with good reason -- who wants to feel sticky and weighed down, just to ensure sun protection? Most of our available sunscreens are suitably lightweight for almost any user. But then there's the Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc spray, which takes things even further.


This spray blocks UVA and UVB rays while providing 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance. It's also hypoallergenic, suitable for sensitive skin, is kid-safe, free of dairy, soy and gluten, and 100% fragrance-free. In short - if you're worried about a specific irritant in your sunscreen, there's a good chance it's not in Babo Botanicals products.

Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion

After getting some sun, it's always good to get ahead of potential skin damage. And if there's any brand synonymous with skin relief, it's Gold Bond. Their Ultimate Healing lotion is specially formulated to help heal extremely dry, rough and problem skin, through seven intensive moisturizers tested to provide 24-hour moisturization.

Plus, it contains vitamins A, C and E to reinforce the healing and repair, but manages to pull it off without feeling greasy or sticky.

Hibiclens Antiseptic Skin Cleanser

If you do end up getting a little more sun than expected, or just have a few winter scrapes, you'll need a quality skin cleanser and antiseptic. Hibiclens is both!. With 24-hour protection (even after drying) Hibiclens kills germs while remaining gentle enough to use everyday, even on sensitive skin.

Whether you have a rough-looking wound or just want some reassurance that a little sunburn doesn't get any worse, this is a great product to have on hand.

Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn

Forever Young Hand Cream SPF 40 defends against the signs of UV-induced aging with an innovative blend of antioxidants and super broad spectrum protection. Formulated with omega-7 fatty acids to help lighten dark spots, and skin-nourishing oils, this moisturizer improves skin's elasticity and texture while safeguarding skin from future sun damage.

New-Skin First Aid Antiseptic Liquid Bandage

Speaking of unexpected falls, some can be worse than others. Thankfully, when certain scrapes need more than a standard bandage, there's New-Skin. This liquid bandage goes on smoothly, and dries rapidly to form a tough protective layer that's antiseptic, flexible, waterproof, and allows your skin to breathe.

Just brush on with the included applicator and protect wounds by keeping out dirt and germs that cause infections.

Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Treatment Mask with Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask Activator

We couldn't resist throwing in one of our hi-tech health products. And we think you'll agree with the choice. Featuring the same technology as dermatologists use in their acne treatments, the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask uses concentrated light therapy to clear acne and allow skin to heal itself.

This one-step acne treatment covers your face and is easy to use. Just sit back and relax for a quick 10 minute treatment, after which the unity will shut itself off. With regular use, you'll see clearer, healthier skin without chemicals or damaging UV rays.