For more than a third of the flexible spending account (FSA) user population, March 15 is a pivotal deadline when they have to spend the last of their 2019 funds before they're forfeited to the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule.
Need some help getting your wellness shopping trip started? Let the FSAstore.com staff help. We've compiled our staff's favorite newly eligible and top sellers so you can get exactly what you need to spend your remaining funds and get what your family needs to stay healthy year-round.
"This is my favorite sun-safe lip balm that goes with everything. It has broad spectrum protection and helps prevent chapped lips," - Pauline F.
"This is one of our office favorites. It uses a suction tool to remove insect saliva and venom to quickly get rid of any itching or burning after a bite," - Kevin O.
"If I have a sports injury or just some regular workout soreness, this is a great option to have in my freezer to fight off pain and inflammation," - Ethan W.
"I'm a big fan of Kanjo products, and this zip-apart mat helps me set up and break down the mat quickly and stow it in a suitcase or bag when traveling. It's a great way to treat common pain issues that can affect your neck and back," - Brendon A.
"I love this face stick for my little ones because it's plant-based, reef-safe and certified sustainable while offering broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays," - Nancy H.
"When I pull a muscle or tweak something at the gym, this cold compression sleeve is a lifesaver. It conforms to the area to ease pain and speed up the recovery process," - Bill S.
"If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, an FSA is a no-brainer to cover vision corrective aides and everything else that goes with them. I'm a big fan of Sven Antifog gel that will keep my lenses clear for 24 hours and comes in a pen-sized spray bottle that can go with you anywhere," - Zach W.
"After using a regular breast pump after the birth of my first child, I'm absolutely wowed by the Elvie. It can be worn in a standard nursing bra, and I can get stuff done while still being able to pump. It's one of the coolest mom innovations out there today," - Vanessa S.
"You'd be amazed how many ways you can use a heating pad, especially when it comes to treating abdominal cramps and discomfort. This Caring Mill design is perfect for use at home and can fit easily in a travel bag, and each sale benefits our charitable partner, Children's Health Fund! It's a win-win," - Jackie D.
March 15 will be here before you know it, so make sure you shop at FSAstore.com for all of your deadline spending needs:
- Shop worry-free until midnight PST on March 15
- 24/7 access to FSA experts, call or chat
- 100% eligible products, guaranteed
Acupressure mats have been one of the biggest sellers on FSAstore.com over the past year, and a new product from Kanjo will allow you to take your drug-free pain relief regimen on the road.
First and foremost, what is acupressure? In many ways it's similar to acupuncture, which is used to treat chronic pain issues and a wide variety of other conditions by manipulating specific "acupoints" in the body to alleviate pain. Where acupuncture uses needles, acupressure utilizes "pressure" on these key points throughout the body, reports WebMD.
Acupressure mats and pillows were created to deliver targeted therapy to help treat neck, back and foot pain, fibromyalgia pain, stress relief, improved circulation and more. But traveling with something the size of a yoga mat can be limiting for some people, and while they are great for at-home use, those who need to take their acupressure therapy on the road now have a solution.
The Kanjō Travel Acupressure Set includes a compact acupressure mat, acupressure pillow and a carrying case that folds down to find into any carry-on or backpack. Both the mat and pillow have plastic stimulators over the surface of each piece that are designed to target aches, pains and spasms.
The Kanjo acupressure mats have already been a huge hit with our customers, and this new travel pack can help you bring your drug-free pain relief therapy on the road. If acupressure has worked for you or has the possibility to give your spouse/qualified dependent a new way to treat pain, it's a smart FSA-eligible buy for any time of the year.
Other pain relief essentials
DonJoy Marvel Reusable Cold Pack - Captain America
Your new favorite cold pack featuring Marvel's CAPTAIN AMERICA from The Avengers! The reusable round cold pack remains flexible when frozen to help provide soothing relief to pain, bruises, and swelling that is associated with the injury.
Aculief Wearable Acupressure
Aculief is an award-winning, doctor-approved, Wearable Acupressure™ device. It works by applying pressure to the LI4 pressure point, which has been used for thousands of years to treat headaches and provide tension relief.
For a large majority of American families, at-home pain relief methods are pretty simple. Cold packs for injuries, pain relievers for headaches and general pain, and maybe an elastic bandage or athletic brace for a sprained ankle. But let me be the first to say that a good heating pad needs to be included in that conversation.
For this week's selection, let's take a closer look at the Caring Mill Travel Heating Pad, sold exclusively at FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com! Heating pads come in every shape and size imaginable, but we think this Caring Mill design for travel is a smart choice for all applications.
Muscle sprains and pulls can benefit from a combination of cold and heat therapy, such as using a heating pad in combination with a cold pack. According to Healthline, while cold packs can help reduce inflammation and pain for muscle pulls and sprains, heating pads are a great accompaniment that can help open blood vessels to allow oxygenated blood to flow faster to the affected area and boost your recovery. In addition to acute injuries, heating pads are smart choices for chronic pain issues like lower back pain, joint issues and more.
Abdominal pain relief
Whether the source of your pain is a stomach virus or menstrual cramps, abdominal pain is a tough nut to crack. Heating pads are one of the few treatment methods available that can increase circulation to these areas to reduce pain and loosen up tight muscles that could be contributing to cramping.
Finally, if you're a gym rat, heating pads have a wide range of uses that can help you limber up and treat pain issues that may arise from heavy workouts. As we explained above, heating pads in tandem with cold packs are a smart choice for sports injuries, but if you have a troublesome muscle or joint issue hobbling you before a workout, applying a heating pad to this area can help you loosen up to get ready for physical activity.
So if you fit into any of the above criteria or looking to upgrade your pain relief regimen, give the Caring Mill Travel Heating Pad a try. In addition to serving all of your home pain relief needs, it's small enough to throw into your carry-on or overnight bag to take your heat therapy on the road.
Finally and most importantly, every purchase of a Caring Mill product will support Children's Health Fund, which is committed to providing health care to America's disadvantaged youth. That's a win-win for everyone involved!
More from Caring Mill!
Caring Mill™ Essential First-Aid Kit 160pc
This is a great every day first-aid kit that offers a variety of bandages and medical supplies to cover the most common medical situations.
Caring Mill™ Wireless TENS Therapy Kit
Complete, drug-free pain relief Wireless TENS Therapy Starter Kit which includes TENS control unit, one electrode pad, battery, and storage case that is portable and easy to travel with.
We're right on the verge of open enrollment season, and as much as we may love helping working professionals out with their benefits, we're increasingly learning that talking benefits ranks pretty low for enjoyable activities for most people. We're talking really low.
One in Three U.S. Employees Would Rather Talk About Their Weight Than Their Employer-Offered Benefits - MetLife, Business Wire
According to a new survey sponsored by MetLife that analyzed the actions and prevailing thinking of working professionals around open enrollment, despite how important these decisions are for workers' health and finances, there is little excitement to be had around this time of year. In fact, nearly half dread the open enrollment process as much as asking their boss for a raise, and an astounding 33% would rather talk about their weight than their employee benefits.
Some other metrics that came out of the survey should be enough to keep human resources reps up at night. One in five workers only spend a few minutes on their benefits offerings before making a decision for the year, while respondents said that activities that were preferred slightly higher than the open enrollment process including renewing a passport or driver's license. But any way you slice it, it's not a good report for employee enthusiasm around benefits decisions.
How to improve employee morale this open enrollment
At FSAstore.com, open enrollment is one of our favorite times of the year so we have no idea how to relate to these responses, but this isn't our first benefits rodeo. It can take some extra effort on the employer's/HR department's part to really get people on board. Here are a few suggestions from SHRM:
Don't spring it on them!
Advanced communication is key for helping employees get into the swing of things for open enrollment. And no, that doesn't mean boring boardroom meetings. Give workers supplements that they can review on their own time that allows them to compare plans and options so they can find the appropriate level of coverage for themselves and their dependents.
Focus on people
Whether your workforce trends toward younger workers with less experience in benefits election or well-established workers who may be more set in their ways, a "one-size-fits-all" communication strategy doesn't work for anyone. Make HR available early and often during the open enrollment process so workers can talk over their benefits options and have an informed opinion when it's time to choose a plan.
What can really get employees excited for open enrollment is finding out how much money they can save over the course of the year. Specifically, calculators for FSA or HSA users are extremely helpful in giving employees a view into how much their contributions will affect their yearly tax savings and estimating how much they'll spend on health care expenses in the coming year. If you know there's a chance you can save hundreds with a different plan, that's a better way to look at open enrollment.
Stickable PAINCAKES® hover just above the epidermis surrounding the injured area with cooling waves of relief.
For the treatment of muscle and joint aches, painful gums, sprains, back pain and the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
It's back-to-school time, and as you scramble to get your kids ready for the new academic year, there may be more to think about than just picking up school supplies.
This is because August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Each year, the organization aims to provides information to the public that can help protect and preserve your child's eye health.
Luckily, whether you have a standard flexible spending account (FSA) or a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA), your benefits can cover a significant portion of vision care expenses that can help your child see clearly throughout the coming school year. Here are just a few of the AAO's suggestions of what you should cover as the calendar flips to September and school gets underway.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), an eye exam is recommended for school-aged children every two years if there is no vision correction issue present, and those who need glasses or contact lenses should visit on an annual basis.
Before your kids get back in the classroom this fall, make an appointment with your optometrist to ensure your child's eyesight is healthy - and use your FSA to offset the costs.
Another good plan is to make sure your kids have up-to-date glasses and contact lenses that can stand up to the rigors of childhood. Your FSA covers reading glasses, prescription eyeglasses and prescription contact lenses.
If your child's eye wear is in need of an update, your FSA can cover the fresh new look they've been looking for. Visit our Optical Store to browse our selection of leading eye care brands.
Are all types of contacts covered?
If contacts are designed to correct vision problems, they're FSA-eligible. Though insurance companies might have their own policies regarding coverage of specific types or brands of lenses, they're usually 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.
Vision correction accessories
Are you running low on contact lens solution? Has your child misplaced a carrying case? In addition to vision correction methods, your FSA covers a huge slate of products that can protect and prolong the lifespan of your kids' eyeglasses and contact lenses. Contact lens solution, eyeglass repair kits, cleaning cloths and much more are eligible for FSA reimbursement.
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 and Twitter.
With new deadline extensions in place, thousands of eligible products available for purchase, and the freedom to use an FSA card, flexible spending accounts are easier than ever to use. We've seen a little bit of everything since we founded our company in 2010, but year after year there are still common questions on the minds of FSA holders.
So, once and for all, we're tackling the three most common eligibility questions we receive from FSA users. Whether you're an HR professional or an account holder, you can be armed with the knowledge necessary to take full advantage of your tax-free funds.
"Why do I need to get a prescription for items like Advil or Tylenol that I can buy without one in a pharmacy?"
New visitors to our site may think that we're putting FSA users through the ringer to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, but in reality, we are simply complying with rules put into place through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The provision requires FSA users to submit prescriptions for any OTC products that have a medicated ingredient like Advil or Claritin to obtain reimbursement. Our team continues to support the repeal of this provision, but until that happens, we can help you navigate this requirement.
First, FSA users should be mindful of any upcoming OTC medicine purchases they may need to make in the coming months, and pick up prescriptions during routine doctor office visits. If you don't have an appointment on the horizon, we created the Prescription Process to help.
Simply provide your physician's name, phone number and address and we will obtain the documentation necessary for you to make your purchase.
Update: As of March 2020 with the passage of the CARES Act, the OTC Rx requirement has been repealed and prescriptions are no longer necessary to purchase over-the-counter medicines with an FSA or HSA. Additionally, menstrual care products like tampons and pads are fully FSA-/HSA-eligible. Learn more here.
"So, diapers aren't FSA-eligible, but toddler training pants are?"
This is a common point of confusion for FSA users as it would seem that these two products perform the same function. As is often the case, diapers are considered "general health" items by the IRS. In short, diapers are used after a healthy function of the body, therefore it has no medical purpose.
However, toddler and young child training pants are eligible because they protect against bed-wetting, an involuntary function of the body. Training pants are commonly used in treatment plans for bed-wetting to help kids develop nighttime bladder control.
"Do I have to wait to spend my FSA funds until they accrue?"
FSAs are funded through regular payroll deductions from an account holder's paycheck over the course of the year - tax-free! This has the benefit of reducing your taxable income and helping you pay less in taxes. But for many who are on the fence about an FSA, how these payroll deductions take place can be a point of confusion.
But the solution is actually quite simple: an account holder's FSA contribution (which they elect during their open enrollment period) is available in full at the beginning of their plan year. So if you elected the maximum for 2020 ($2,750), that full amount would be available to spend on qualifying items and services from the start of the plan year.
Motrin Ibuprofen Pain Reliever
Relieve headache pain and bring down fevers quickly with Motrin IB tablets
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.
Yes it's still the middle of July, but we in the benefits industry run on a different calendar, and this time of year we're in the thick of open enrollment planning. For FSA users, this is a critical time to calculate your yearly contribution and make any necessary changes to your account before re-enrolling. FSA users tend to be benefits pros, but what about everyone else? The key ingredient to a successful open enrollment is communication - early and often!
Employee engagement: Why it matters for workers enrolling in benefits - Evelina Nedlund, Employee Benefit News
This week, we're taking a closer look at an Employee Benefit News interview with Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board, a non-profit business membership and research group organization, on the subject of open enrollment engagement. She had 3 interesting takeaways that every HR rep should stand up and take notice of:
Employees DO care about their benefits
While blank stares are common during most open enrollment presentations, research shows that employee benefits are massively important to workers. Benefits are part and parcel why your employees consider a place a great place to work, and they need to know how they can navigate them to get the maximum return from their hard work. It's not just another event on the calendar - it's pivotal for the entire employee base.
Employers need to take a larger role
Benefits administrators are key in communicating how benefits fit into a worker's overall financial picture, but employers have to do their part to open up these discussions to a larger audience. In addition to traditional benefits presentations, open forums where employees from all backgrounds can ask questions that go beyond the standard "what will my co-pay be?" shows that the company cares not only about work-life balance, but helping them achieve goals that extend outside of the office.
Student debt is a major issue to consider
Millennials make up the largest segment of today's workforce, but many are far more concerned with paying off their student loans than contributing to a retirement account. This is a wholly unique new trend for employers and benefit administrators to tackle, and one that will only become more relevant each year.
Financial wellness programs have become a common trend to help millennials better plan their finances and make the right choices for the future, but it shouldn't stop at one group. Workers at various life stages have all manner of important financial decisions to make, so offering these programs to multiple generations can give workers the tools and know-how they need to make smart financial decisions as they relate to their benefits choices.
Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Sunscreen is one of the most vital FSA-eligible products available to American families for its role in preventing skin cancer, which 1 in 5 Americans will experience some time in their lifetime (AAD).
But what many people aren't aware of is what makes a sun care product eligible for flexible spending account dollars. Luckily, the main requirement is that it keeps the key feature that makes all sunscreens effective: broad spectrum protection.
We've all seen broad spectrum on sunscreen bottles, but what does it really mean? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, ultraviolet rays are the key causes of sunburn and skin damage, which take the form of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UVC rays are absorbed in the atmosphere, but the rest of this infrared light trickles down to us. But UVA/UVB rays damage skin in differing ways (University of Iowa):
These rays are the primary contributors to photoaging, or wrinkling of the skin that are most often associated with aging. They do this because they penetrate to deeper skin layers than UVB rays. UVA rays are the toughest to block, and traditional sunscreens are typically more effective in blocking UVB rays.
These are the sun's rays that affect your uppermost skin layers, and are the primary contributors to sunburn. These rays play the most active role in contributing to the formation of skin cancers, which can sometimes arise in dark-colored spots on the skin that can be the early signs of melanoma.
UV forecasts and sunscreen use
No sunscreen will be able to block 100% of UV rays, but broad spectrum sunscreens are the most effective in reducing the chance of sunburn and skin damage from prolonged sun exposure. Always use sunscreen when heading outdoors, but another tip to reduce your UV exposure year-round is to check on the UV Index in your area.
According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA), the UV Index is a calculation conducted by the National Weather Service for most ZIP codes across the U.S. to forecast the expected risk of excessive UV radiation.
Typically these are only reported on TV weather forecasts in events of extreme UV sun exposure, but if you want to be proactive about your sun care regimen, the EPA offers a free, downloadable UV Index app so you can be mindful of your risk wherever you're heading.
No matter what time of year it may be, there are certain parts of your body that will get sunburned before others if you're outdoors for an extended period of time. Your nose and the tops of your shoulders are the usual culprits, but one area we may overlook are our lips! If you've ever had a lip sunburn, you know how painful it can be, but leaving your lips unprotected from the sun's rays can pop up again in bothersome, unexpected ways.
Pay attention to chapped lips
Did you know that one of the biggest contributors to chapped, dry lips is excessive sun exposure? Chapped lips are caused by a lack of moisture in the upper skin layers of the lips, which can result in painful cracks in the skin that can be difficult to heal. According to Healthline, sun exposure can worsen chapped lips, even more if you're sunburned and dehydrated.
To stave off chapped lips and protect your lips from the sun, look for a lip balm that has moisturizing ingredients, as well as an SPF of 15 or above (AAD). Lips are also susceptible to skin cancer, more than any other area of the body. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that the lower lip is approximately 12 times more likely to be affected by skin cancer than other parts of the body, owing to its greater exposure to sunlight. So proper lip sun care isn't just about warding off a sunburn, it is a smart choice for your long-term health.
Handling a lip sunburn
If your lip care lapses on a sunny day and you end up with a lip sunburn, it's going to be a pain in a sensitive place for about 3-5 days! But luckily, most traditional sunburn remedies can help you bounce back quickly. From Healthline:
- Cold compresses: Cold packs are surefire treatments for all forms of body inflammation and your lips are no different. If your lips are especially sensitive, wrap the compress in a towel to avoid numbing the skin.
- Moisturizers: As tempting as it may be to use lidocaine products and other cooling sunburn treatments, the risk of ingesting them after treating your lips is too high to risk. Moisturizers are the best choice, namely those with natural ingredients like vitamin E, coconut oil, or almond oil that can jumpstart the healing process.
- Anti-inflammatories: In addition to good old-fashioned cold therapy, a smart way to fight inflammation is to take a pain relief like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) that is a pain reliever AND an anti-inflammatory to bring down swelling.
- Aloe vera: If you have an aloe vera plant in your home, break a branch open! The cooling gel in these plants is a natural cure for skin burns and rashes, and can provide a measure of relief for bad sunburns.
Last but not least, what to avoid:
As we mentioned above, skip the lidocaine products that you could ingest with a lip sunburn, as well as any oily products that can trap heat instead of allowing the area to heal.
But the best defense against a lip sunburn is to use lip balm with an SPF of 15 or above, and there are plenty of options to be had with your FSA funds.
For some, sustainability is not just a practice, it's a lifestyle they embrace with everything they do, and a key deciding factor in the brands they support and the products they use. So when it comes to sun care, these individuals aren't just applying any old chemical sunscreen, they care deeply about its effect on the environment.
In recent years, mineral sunscreen has emerged as one of the top eco-friendly sun care products on the market. But how does it differ from traditional medical sunscreen and is it just as effective? Let's dive in and find out.
Mineral sunscreens vs. traditional sunscreens
To get the latter question out of the way, yes, both of these sunscreen types will help protect you from sunburn and more advanced skin damage if used as directed. Both will absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays to prevent sunburn, but where they really differ is in their ingredients:
This type of sunscreen has long been the most widely used sunscreen type and is formulated with chemical ingredients that aren't found in nature. The most common active ingredients in chemical, also known as "synthetic" sunscreens include oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene.
Here's where things get interesting: for these sunscreen to work, the active ingredients have to be absorbed into the skin, which may be an issue with those with allergies or sensitive skin, says Consumer Reports.
While these products have proven to be an effective means of preventing sunburn and skin damage, sustainability issues have arisen in recent years about active ingredients like oxybenzone/octinoxate playing an active role in eliminating coral reef populations through bleaching.
Hawaii even took a major step forward to ban sunscreens with these ingredients in mid-2018 (CNN). While other states have not yet followed suit, it is a trend that bears watching and may induce other consumers to make the switch to natural alternatives.
In addition to having different active ingredients to absorb UV rays, mineral sunscreen has a unique texture that is different from chemical sunscreens that feel more like a moisturizing lotion. Mineral sunscreens utilize active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and as such have a different texture and feel a bit lighter on the skin than chemical variants.
However, the key difference with mineral sunscreen is that while chemical versions are absorbed into the skin, mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin layers and absorbs UV rays in that fashion. So they may be safer choices for those with sensitive skin, as well as small children. Lastly, because mineral sunscreen uses active ingredients that are derived from natural materials, it is eco-friendly and safe to wear everywhere.
So which is the right choice? According to the Mayo Clinic, you should always practice year-round sun care with the right sunscreen for your needs, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security! Even with the best product on the market, a combination of shade, sunscreen, clothing coverage and common sense can keep you and your loved ones protected year-round from the sun's rays.
Whether you're new to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or consider yourself to be a tax-free wizard, you've probably been warned about "double dipping." And if you've read the fine print on any claim you've submitted, you may have already stated you won't double dip.
Basically, double dipping is being reimbursed for the same expense twice, which can happen a lot of ways when managing your FSA. While it's not technically illegal, it's highly unethical and could get you in serious trouble with your employer.
Why? Because by claiming FSA reimbursement you're unable to seek payment for things already paid for pre-tax, or things you intend to pay with another tax-free health account. This can happen without even knowing it.
It's up to your employer to hire an administrator to make sure plans are compliant with the IRS. The IRS says employers (or administrators) have to ask for a written guarantee by the participant that they will not double dip.
If double dipping goes by unnoticed by the administrator, the whole plan could be considered non-compliant and everyone in your company could lose the benefit.
Even worse, if the FSA plan was found to be out of compliance, all those tax-free benefits could instantly become taxable to employees. And we wouldn't want to be the person responsible for that mistake. So, let's explore the most common ways double dipping can happen and how you can avoid it.
One of the most common forms of double dipping is by paying for an FSA-eligible expense with your FSA card, and then submitting the same expense for reimbursement. Most benefits administrators can catch these mistakes pretty quickly. But if a claim does go through and you get reimbursed twice for the same expense, you'll have to pay it back to your administrator if they become aware of the issue.
Doubling expensing on separate accounts
Let's say you and your spouse each have FSAs through your respective employers. If you pay for a copayment or FSA-eligible product and submit a claim for that expense under both accounts, this is another clear example of double dipping.
To avoid this, make sure to keep your FSA claims separate for each account to avoid confusion.
Wellness plan double dipping
Employee wellness plans have become popular in the last few years. But this has created new ways to commit some financial foul play. According to Business Management Daily, the IRS identified wellness plan double dipping as something to watch for.
Basically, employees are paying for wellness program premiums with tax-free funds, and then getting these premiums reimbursed. Technically, wellness programs are "employer contributions," and can't be reimbursed through plans like FSAs or HSAs.
Double dipping can be an honest mistake, but if you make a real effort to double your reimbursements for qualifying healthcare expenses, you're probably not going to get away with it. And I can't imagine anyone wants to deal with the IRS (or an angry HR department) any more than they already do.
Stick to the honest path: Use your FSA card whenever possible, and keep your receipts organized to avoid any issues down the line.
New to FSAs? Need a refresher course in all things flex spending? Our Flex-Ed column gives you a dose of FSA Living 101, offering tips for making the most of your tax-free funds. Look for it every Thursday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center.
As the nation settles in for a day full of barbecues, fireworks and outdoor fun, we thought July 4 would be a good time to think back to some of the people that led this nation over the last 250 years. Because, as it turns out our leaders were (and are) just as human as us all. Many suffered from the same illnesses, while others rose above to develop positive health habits.
As we look back on the lives of our notable leaders, let's take a peek at their health situations to shed light on their lives (not to mention the eras in which they lived).
Thomas Jefferson's romantic wrist wrangling
In the summer of 1785, Thomas Jefferson served as the U.S. minister to France. But the importance of this office didn't stop Jefferson from leaping over a fence to impress a French woman. This rom-com maneuver ended badly for him, however, when he landed wrong and ended up breaking his wrist.
Jefferson described the incident in a letter to American artist John Trumbull: "It was by one of those follies from which good cannot come, but ill may." Unfortunately, 18th century doctors didn't have access to advanced wrist support items, so his broken bones were improperly set by French doctors, and his wrist remained deformed and painful for the rest of his life.
William Henry Harrison's near-instant pneumonia
William Henry Harrison holds the unfortunate distinction for the shortest time in office at just 32 days in 1841. Harrison gave a two-hour inaugural speech on a cold, rainy March day and soon developed a cold that progressed into pneumonia.
While a lot has happened in medicine since that dreary day in 1841, we now know Harrison might have benefited from some modern cold, flu and allergy products to break up his congestion before it got infected. Sadly, he passed from complications, just nine days later.
Calvin Coolidge's surefire sleep habits
The 30th President put a notable emphasis on his sleep cycle and was known to sleep 11 hours each day. Coolidge was known to retire to bed at 10 p.m., wake up between 7 and 9 a.m. and always made time for an afternoon nap lasting 2 to 4 hours.
Could you imagine a modern-day president having the time to have this sleep schedule? Chances are our current leaders are lacking quality sleep, and probably need a little help from FSA-eligible sleep aids to get rest in order to tackle the world's problems with the right clarity and focus.
John F. Kennedy's silent, but severe back issues
John F. Kennedy's back issues were never revealed to the public until after his death, but they were a constant source of difficulty starting from a young age. Throughout his Presidency, JFK wore a back brace and took medication to manage the pain from his condition.
It turns out one of the most public-facing presidents was actually hiding a life-threatening disease. The notoriously camera-friendly Kennedy chose to hide his diagnosis of Addison's disease — an incurable disorder of the adrenal glands.
Barack Obama toppled his tobacco addiction
Shortly before entering the White House, the 44th President made a vow to his wife, Michelle, that he would quit smoking cigarettes before entering the 2008 race. Though he had smoked tobacco since high school, Obama managed to quit thanks to the use of smoking cessation products like nicotine gum.
It appears Obama has continued to fight the addiction, which may still stand as one of his greatest accomplishments -- even after a noteworthy two terms in office.
Yes, it turns out the forefathers of our country, shared quite a bit with current leaders … and had more than a few similarities to the rest of us. We've probably missed a ton of great stories about other presidents, so please let us know who we should add on our social media pages.
New to FSAs? Need a refresher course in all things flex spending? Our weekly Flex-Ed column gives you a weekly dose of FSA Living 101, offering tips for making the most of your tax-free funds. Look for it every Thursday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
If you go back into the FSA Friday archives, there's one word that seems to appear in headlines more than most -- change. And why wouldn't it? After all, tax-free healthcare accounts changed consumer health. Plus, FSAs certainly change the way people approach their budgeting and planning.
And on a larger scale, the employee benefit landscape always seems to be looking forward, hoping for challenges to become accomplishments, and positive trends to become realities. This week's headlines cover some more trends and predictions for the coming year.
Part-timers are gaining ground in employee benefits - Valerie Bolden-Barrett, HRDive
According to the article, employers are shifting toward extending benefits to part-time workers. The Flexible Work Arrangements: 2017 Survey Report found that 78% of organizations employ part-time workers, and 90% of those organizations define part-time work as fewer than 30 hours a week.
Of the benefits discussed, the most favorable were (unsurprisingly) healthcare coverage (54%), prescription drug coverage (53%), dental and vision care (52%), flexible spending accounts (47%) and health savings accounts (33%).
Plus, paid leave benefits offered to part-time employees included holidays, bereavement leave, sick pay, short-term disability, maternity leave, parental/family leave and personal leave.
This is a growing trend in this burgeoning "gig economy" -- and we don't see that changing anytime soon.
Top 10 HR challenges of 2019 - Nick Otto, Employee Benefit News
This time of year always brings out the "prediction" and "reflection" articles -- culling wisdom from the year that was, and applying it to the year to come. These pieces might be speculation, but they offer some good insights into the state of different industries. Especially when it comes to attracting and retaining quality workers.
According to this article, this challenge is going to persist into 2019, and will continue to be difficult to administer as employers enforce compliance with laws like the ACA, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA and GINA. As benefit managers reevaluate benefit strategies, the report also suggests benefits be tailored according to the needs and interest of multiple generations.
Staying on top of the news cycle is a great first step, but you should also be mindful of what to look for. News alerts are a great way to start, and EBN predicts action on joint employment, overtime exemptions, GINA and wellness benefits and of course, further action on the Affordable Care Act. Or you can just follow this column, we'll have you covered.
FSA Friday is a weekly roundup of the latest topics, tips and headlines to keep you updated on all things flex spending. It appears every Friday, 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.
Every year, as we approach open enrollment (and it's we receive a lot of the same questions. And discussing the letter of medical necessity (LMN) is always at the top of the list. So, since this a column about the basics of flexible spending account use, we're happy to cover it again. Because it's important, and can impact how you shop for FSA-eligible products and services.
If you've spent some time looking through our Eligibility List, you probably noticed a classification of qualifying medical products and services as "requiring a letter of medical necessity."
In short, an LMN is like a doctor's note. Having an LMN can help any product or service that falls outside the IRS's definition of "medical care" (but can assist the treatment of a condition) get approved for FSA reimbursement.
Defining "medical care"
For a product or service to be FSA-eligible, it must treat, cure, diagnose or prevent a disease or illness. Or it has to affect a function of the body. So a product like a first-aid kit is a no-brainer, as it can be used in a huge variety of medical situations.
However, there are many treatment methods and products available that fall outside IRS guidelines that could be made eligible with some additional documentation from your doctor.
Here's an example: If your doctor suggests massage therapy to treat an injury, it's not FSA-eligible on its own. However, if you get an LMN from your doctor that outlines how the treatment method is essential to your recovery, your benefits administrator may accept it as an FSA-eligible expense.
How to submit a letter of medical necessity
If you and your doctor have identified a medical product or service that can aid the treatment of an injury or medical condition and it falls outside FSA eligibility, here's what you need to do:
- Check with your benefits administrator to see if there is an official form to fill out for the expense to be approved.
- If your doctor is writing a letter on his/her own, the letter must outline: what medical condition is being treated, a description of the treatment (frequency, dosage), and how long the expense will be needed to treat the condition.
- A receipt or invoice must be submitted with the LMN for the full price to be reimbursed.
In some cases, benefits administrators may ask for additional information from your doctor, most likely for products/services that also have non-medical uses.
Beyond its direct medical use, most expenses are non-reimbursable if the individual would have purchased it anyway. In other words, this product can't be something you would purchase even if you didn't have the condition. It needs to be directly related to this course of treatment, and the specific use needs to be confirmed by a doctor.
One example is yoga. If you're already paying for yoga classes unrelated to a medical condition, your payments are not FSA-eligible, and these costs won't be covered retroactively. But if a physician recommends yoga to help a specific condition, they might submit an LMN on your behalf, to allow you to use tax-free funds to cover the costs of classes for a set period of time, until the doctor determines your treatment is complete.
With any luck, you shouldn't have any difficulties getting reimbursed for your expense as long as you keep an open line of communication with your benefits administrator and ensure that your physician is as detailed as possible.
New to FSAs? Need a refresher course in all things flex spending? Our weekly Flex-Ed column gives you a weekly dose of FSA Living 101, offering tips for making the most of your tax-free funds. Look for it every Thursday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center.