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Eligibility

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.

$19.99

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.

$42.99

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Eligibility

That's Eligible?! 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!


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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.

Living Well

Asked and Answered: How can I tell the difference between self-care and medical care?

If you've ever woken up with a head cold and debated whether or you should go to the doctor or just take a personal day on the couch, then you've debated self-care versus medical care.

When you feel sick or exhausted, it can be difficult to make the call on how to get better. On one hand, doctors can usually tell what's wrong right away, and get you on your feet faster. On the other, you don't want to overreact or have to pay doctors' bills for no reason.

Even though there isn't a right or wrong answer, it's important to understand the difference between self-care and medical care, and the different ways in which they might harm or help your health. And here's the good news: you can often use funds from your flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for the cost of medical care. Plus, you might be able to use your FSA to pay for some self-care items as well.

[Please note, these are anecdotal suggestions. For a determination of your personal health and wellness needs, be sure to speak with a licensed medical professional before making any changes to your routine.]

Self-care

You've probably heard self-care discussed in your office and praised on social media, but the definition of the term is often unclear. Some people claim self-care is the act of soaking in a bath after a hard day at the office, while others say acts of self-care must be related to your health—eating your vegetables, hitting the gym or sleeping soundly at night.

In its simplest form, self-care is taking action to preserve or improve your own health.

When it comes to your physical health, there are self-care steps you can take to preserve or improve your health. For example, if you experience anxiety, you can soothe yourself with a weighted blanket, hot tea or deep breaths. All of these coping mechanisms would fall under the umbrella of self-care.

Medical care

It may seem obvious, but medical care is provided by medical professionals. Officially, it's defined as, "the provision of what is necessary for a person's health and well-being by a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional."

The main difference between self-care and medical care is the person providing the care. With self-care you are providing the care, and with medical care a healthcare professional is providing the care.

For example, if you experience anxiety and decide to pursue talk therapy with a licensed professional, you would be utilizing medical care. Doctor exams, nurse visits, dietitian meetings and therapy appointments are all elements of medical care.

How do I determine what I need?

This is where the "gray area" comes into play -- for most people, self-care and medical care coexist. In fact, many people pursue both at the same time.

For example, if you're feeling down and can't understand why, you might decide to talk with a therapist and also go on long walks, light scented candles and eat more vegetables. You don't have to choose between self-care or medical care. In fact, it's often a good idea to utilize a combination of both.

When you're feeling sick, whether it's physically or emotionally, it is often hard to determine what kind of care you need. And we're certainly not doctors -- for any decisions about your personal health, be sure to consult a medical professional!

If you're on the fence about whether or not you should visit a healthcare professional, it's probably a good idea to make an appointment and check in about your concerns. When it comes to your health, it's better to err on the side of caution.

Bottom line

Health is tricky and it might be difficult to determine what kind of care you need. If you're unsure about whether you need to visit a health professional, it's probably a good idea to visit.

But while you wait for your appointment, it might help to employ some self-care practices. After all, this is the only body you get, so you might as well take care of it.

Personal care must-haves

Clinere Personal Ear Cleaners

Clinere Ear Cleaners have dual purpose ends for flexible ear cleaning and ear-itch relief.

KT Tape Performance+™ Blister Treatment Patch

Designed specifically to protect and help heal blisters during the rigors of athletic training and competition.


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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 and Twitter.


Living Well

Real Money: What you need to know about adoption and your FSA

The process of adopting a child is both exhausting and exhilarating. But above all, it's life-changing. We've talked a lot about FSA-eligible items for children and even how to use your dependent care FSA (DCFSA) to save money on child care, but we haven't talked as much about adoption and how it relates to your FSA.

Let's start with the obvious: Adopting a child is expensive, and even though you can't use your FSA to pay for adoption fees, you can use it to pay for related medical expenses and pre-adoption counseling. Plus, once you've completed the adoption process, you'll be able to use your tax-advantaged accounts to pay for doctor's visits and other eligible medical expenses just as you would for a biological child.

While you're going through the legal process of adoption—applying, meeting the physical requirements, home checks and more—there are unique regulations about what is FSA-eligible and what isn't.

Adoption fees are not eligible

Unfortunately, fees associated with the adoption aren't FSA-eligible. This means that you can't use your FSA to pay for them. But be sure to check for other benefits from your employer that might be able to help with the initial costs though. (For example, some companies offer a small stipend to help offset some of the cost of adoption.)

Pre-adoption counseling is eligible

Pre-adoption counseling is similar to regular counseling and is the process of talking with a professional about your hopes and fears. Of course, the difference with pre-adoption counseling is that it's specifically related to your feelings about adoption.

Most certified mental health professionals (like licensed marriage and family therapists) are able to provide pre-adoption counseling. This expense is similar to any other mental health expense—you'll be able to apply for FSA reimbursement through your employer (although we always recommend checking in with your FSA administrator before incurring the expense to see exactly what types of documentation they'll require and to find out about any potential plan limitations which would not cover this expense)..

Pre-adoption medical expenses are eligible

Prospective parents who apply to adopt a child are often required to complete physical exams and even blood work. If medical tests are required through your adoption agency or the county, you'll be able to apply for FSA reimbursement through your FSA administrator just as you would for other medical expenses.

After the legal adoption

When it comes to adoption and how it affects your taxes (and pre-tax accounts) there are few specific requirements that must be met before your adopted child can qualify as a tax dependent.

Here's what you need:

  • Adoption decree
  • Social security card
  • Amended birth certificate

Once you have all of your documents and your child becomes a legal tax dependent, you'll be able to pay for your child's medical expenses with your HSA or DCFSA, if applicable. If you have an FSA and/or HRA, your child will qualify regardless of tax dependent status.

Dependent care is eligible

Once your adopted child is a legal dependent, you'll be able to use your dependent care FSA (DCFSA) to pay for childcare or after-school programs while you're at work. Here are the requirements—your child must be under age 13 and you and your spouse need to be either gainfully employed or seeking gainful employment.

You can contribute the maximum per year towards your DCFSA, which is $5,000 per household, or $2,500 if married and filing separately. Utilizing your DCFSA is a great way to save some money on childcare expenses, which can add up fast.

Enjoy this new chapter

There's a lot to think about when it comes to adoption, but the most important thing to remember is that this is a special time in your life. Welcoming a child into your home is a wonderful gift for both you and the child. Plus, here's some good news—you're already one step ahead by being financially prepared.

Some Baby Care favorites!


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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eligibility

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.

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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.

Accounts

Real Money: How I've handled career transitions and insurance options

Career transitions are difficult and expensive, but they also provide you with a unique opportunity: a chance to reflect. My previous job offered excellent benefits (including FSA and HSA options), great coworkers and a supportive boss. But here's the deal—I knew I wanted to switch careers.

At the time, I was working in digital marketing and writing. It was fun work, but I realized that I wanted to move from sitting behind a desk to standing in front of a classroom. I wanted to be a teacher.

After a grueling year of graduate school and student teaching, I made the switch. A lot will change as a transition into my new career, and one of those changes will be my health insurance options.

As we approach open enrollment for 2020 (no, it's not too early to think about that already), here's what I'm considering about FSAs and HSAs as I plan for my new health insurance reality. But more importantly, here's everything I've learned along the way and how you can avoid my mistakes.

Learn the lingo (even when it's hard)

Here's a confession: I didn't know what the terms "FSA" or "HSA" meant during my first full-time job after college. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I remember sitting in orientation and zoning out during the explanation. It sounded complicated and I already felt overwhelmed by options.

But even beyond that, I had no idea that I just entered a new tax bracket (up until that point I had only worked part-time jobs). If I had understand the potential tax savings offered by a HSA or FSA, I like to think I would have signed up for one, but the truth is that I didn't, and as result, I missed out on upwards of $5,000 of savings during my time at that job.

Whether it seems complicated or not, it's worth it to listen during orientation and read your benefits packet once you're home. After all, you could save thousands of dollars. It's a lesson I had to learn the hard way, but that doesn't mean you have to.

Plan for the future

Throughout my year in graduate school, I missed out on a bunch of employer benefits — retirement accounts, health insurance, life insurance, and access to a FSA or a HSA. But I also promised myself that I would never again intentionally opt out of employer benefits.

So, while I was in school, I made a point of learning about different accounts and the benefits of each: health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, dependent care flexible spending accounts, limited purpose flexible spending accounts and more.

Here's a quick refresher of the eligibility requirements for each account:

  • HSA: In order to utilize a HSA, you must be enrolled in a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and have no other disqualifying coverage.
  • FSA: As long as your employer provides an FSA and you meet the requirements that they offer for you to enroll (such as being a full-time employee or enrolling in a health plan, for example), you are qualified.
  • Limited Purpose FSA: These accounts are often only for people who have a HSA and are used to cover dental and vision expenses. However you may be offered a "limited" FSA in other situations as well.
  • Dependent Care FSA: This account is used to pay for child care or after school care for children up to 13 years old, and to pay for care for qualifying adults. If you meet the requirements of your employer, have a qualifying child under the age of 13 and you and your spouse are either gainfully employed, seeking gainful employment or go to school full-time, you will qualify to participate

Each of these accounts serves a specific purpose and the maximum contributions vary, but enrolling in one of the accounts is not complicated, and could save you a ton of money over time.

(And to be completely honest, as a teacher, I will take every possible opportunity to maximize my funds.)

Read the fine print

Once I was employed again, it was time to put my hard won knowledge to the test. I spent about 30 minutes reading through my new benefits package and familiarizing myself with the different options. Here's the truth—I still felt the urge to just simply select a health insurance plan and ignore the other accounts, but I resisted the urge and read the fine print.

Not wanting to deal with something doesn't make you lazy. All you can do is acknowledge the feeling and then do it anyways. As for me, I'm excited to save money on my medical expenses this year.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Basics

That's Eligible?! Planning transportation expenses with your FSA

If you're ever been alone and needed medical treatment, then you know the concerns about being unable to get help. The last thing that should be on your mind is how you'll get there, much less how you'll pay for it.

Regardless of your situation, it's a good idea to plan for the possibility of a medical need, and how you plan to get to and from these treatments. And we're not just talking about medical emergencies. As long as you're traveling to a doctor's office, hospital or other medical facility for necessary treatments, your transportation costs might be FSA-eligible.

As with most FSA-eligible purchases, there are some specific rules. Here's everything you need to know about FSA-eligible transportation expenses.

Rideshare apps, buses and more

Unlike some purchases (hello, sunscreen!) you can't use your FSA debit card to pay for your transportation expenses. Instead, you have to submit a claim for reimbursement to your FSA administrator.

Many expenses related to common modes of transportation—Uber, Lyft, planes, cars, ferries, taxis, rental cars, buses and more—can be FSA-eligible. But that doesn't mean you can charter a private jet next time you need to visit your doctor.

In general, your mode of transportation should be reasonable for the medical care you are receiving. If you're home alone and very ill, then a rideshare app, like Uber or Lyft, is probably the best option, especially late at night.

Do it yourself

One of the most common FSA-eligible forms of transportation is driving a personal car. When it comes to driving your own car and using your FSA to pay for it, there are few things you'll want to keep in mind.

  1. The medical care you're travelling for must be FSA-eligible. (Driving to a spa day with your friends doesn't count.)
  2. You can be reimbursed for eligible tolls, fees and gas OR submit for reimbursement of the allowed mileage deduction of 18 cents per mile.
  3. You could also claim a mileage deduction for medical purposes, but not if you've already received FSA reimbursement for it. This is a tax write-off that you claim on your annual tax forms and is different from a reimbursement claim.

What isn't eligible

Unfortunately, your FSA isn't going to cover your daily commute and regular driving. Automobile depreciation, insurance, repairs and traffic tickets -- even if they happen on the way to appointments -- all come out of pocket. Also, any travel that is done for personal reasons (even if it includes a doctor visit in another city) isn't eligible.

Stay organized

Staying on top of your transportation expenses ensures you're filing for all necessary reimbursements. This helps to prove FSA eligibility if asked to do so by your company, or the IRS.

The best way to keep track of your receipts and expenses is to create a separate file for all FSA-eligible transportation expenses. This can be a digital file on your laptop or a physical file that you store in your home. The most important part of the process is you -- the system only works if you use it.

I bet you're probably thinking back to every time you've sat in traffic on the way to a doctor. Well, you can rest easy knowing that travel for future medical visits can be covered with your tax-free funds.

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eligibility

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

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

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

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

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

The cost of prescription medicine

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

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

Copays and deductibles are eligible

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

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

You set the amount

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Living Well

Flex-Ed: How to live and save like a superhero

At the time this piece is being published, The Avengers just finished dominating the box office, the X-Men are about to start, Shazam made a brief impact, and approximately 129 other superhero films will hit the streets before the holidays.

So, with all the recent grads about to start their adult lives (and with superheroes on everyone's brains) we figured it might be good to share some scrimping and saving tips to help everyone live and save like a financial superhero.

Remember, we're not financial pros -- you should speak with one before making any decisions about your own planning. But the following tips helped us get ahead, because if you live and save like a superhero, you'll be ready to rise to the occasion and have a better endgame.

(Yeah, we know what we did there…)

Enemy #1: Debt

Debt is a sneaky villain. When you first meet debt, it seems charming, funny and even kind. It's a villain in disguise. No matter how many times debt tries to tempt you, it's important to resist because financial superheroes have to stay lean and ready for action. Even though debt might seem harmless, it actually causes superheroes to become slow and sluggish.

How to conquer debt: If you've attended college, bought a car or experienced a period of unemployment, you've probably had firsthand experience with debt. When I graduated from college, I had nearly $14,000 of student loans. Even though that's less than the national average of nearly $30,000, it felt like a huge amount, especially because up until that point, I had never earned that much money in a single year.

I used all of my human skills to pay it off as fast as possible. I lived with roommates, rode my bike to work, worked an extra job and tried to avoid lifestyle inflation as much as possible to pay off my loans. Within two years of graduating, I was debt-free. Whether you have a goal to become debt-free or to make payments on time, the most important thing is that you have a plan.

Enemy #2: Laziness

If you're anything like me, battling the villain of laziness usually looks a lot like battling myself. The lazy villain is the one that tries to convince you that financial decisions are too complicated to deal with and you're better off just ignoring them altogether. If that sounds familiar, you're not alone. Most of us have come face to face with this villain before.

How to put a stop to laziness: If you feel like you're being financially lazy, then that probably means that you left free money on the table. Depending on your employer, "free money" might mean a 401(k) match that you're not earning or tax savings that you're missing out on because you don't have a tax-free health spending account.

Overcoming laziness (and fear) around money is tough. In fact, I had to miss out on thousands of dollars in savings before I finally opened a FSA this year. But now that I'm (finally) paying for my health care costs through my FSA, I've been able to free up money for new running shoes and I'm halfway to my savings goal for a new phone.

Sometimes you have to learn from mistakes in order to change. But when it comes to overcoming laziness, I've found that the best solution is action. Sometimes a tiny first step is all the momentum you need to get going.

Enemy #3: Short-sightedness

The short-sightedness villain is the one that convinces you that life is tough and it's okay to just focus on the present. After all, the future isn't guaranteed, right? The problem with this mindset is that it's hard to resist. After all, it's tempting to live in the present, focus on your current needs and ignore the future.

How to thwart short-sightedness: Short-sightedness can look different for everyone, but for a lot of us it involves willfully ignoring our future selves. More specifically, it usually means that we aren't saving for retirement. It's hard to prioritize your future self when your current self is struggling to pay the bills, but saving for retirement is one of the ways to break the cycle of financial stress.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the earlier you can start saving for retirement (whether that's in your 20s, 30s or 40s) the easier it will be to actually retire one day, and that's something worth fighting for.

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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.

Living Well

Real Money: How to make the most of employee wellness programs

Employee wellness benefits and reward programs are on the rise. According to a recent study from the Society of Human Resource Management, 75% of companies offer wellness resources and/or employee wellness programs.

But here's the deal — even though "wellness benefits" might sound like a great perk, a lot of employees don't know what the benefits include or how to use them. Part of that is because these benefits are relatively new. In fact, the same study found that 44% of companies increased their employee wellness offerings in the last twelve months.

Here's some tips to help you make the most of your employee wellness rewards program.

Games, challenges and fitness trackers

Have you ever received an email from human resources with details about fitness games or walking challenges? If so, your company might have a wellness rewards program. Wellness rewards programs vary from company to company, but usually include things like health assessments, fitness challenges, biometrics tracking and wellness education. The details might change depending on your company, but the rewards and incentives are usually similar.

Here's how it works — employees are able to earn rewards for completing health assessments or challenges. The aim of these challenges is to increase employee health, and as a result, lower health care costs for the employer. It's a win-win. In order to incentivize employees to participate, employers usually offer rewards.

Sometimes the rewards are things like discounts for monthly health care expenses, but occasionally, the rewards are points or "dollars" that can be redeemed for health-related items.

Products that can make your workday better

Once you've earned rewards or dollars through your employee wellness programs, and you have a qualified plan, put those dollars to work. The best part about these rewards is that you can use them to buy health-related products that you would have needed anyways. Here are three products you can buy with your wellness rewards. The best part? These products will help improve your health and your workday.

Be prepared with the pain relief bundle

Whether it's a killer headache or bad cramps, it's never fun to experience pain, especially at work. But the worst part about having mild pain is that it's more of a nuisance than an actual health concern. That's why the pain relief bundle is the perfect kit to store in your desk at the office. Next time you feel a headache coming on or experience foot pain from uncomfortable shoes, you'll have exactly what you need to feel better quickly.

Get comfortable with shoe insoles or inserts

For some people, work involves a lot of standing or walking. Even though it might be good for your health to walk around throughout the day, it's hard on your feet. That's why it might be a good idea to invest in foot insoles or inserts. The best part about inserts is that they help even the most uncomfortable shoes become more comfortable.

Get organized with a pill box

Whether you're trying to remember to take prescription medicine or have the goal of creating a vitamin routine, an organizational pill box is a great way to ensure that you stay on track. Get organized for the week and leave the pill box in your desk at work. By creating a routine that incorporates your work day, you're more likely to actually remember and follow through.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it on Tuesdays, 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.

Eligibility

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

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

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

Air purifiers

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

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

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

Air conditioners

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

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

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

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

Air filters

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

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

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

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

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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.