Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.
What to Purchase With Your Flex Spending Account
If you work at a company that provides a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to employees, you are in luck. You can opt to contribute some of your own money to a tax-free account to use for medical expenses. Also, some companies are even generous enough to contribute money to your account on your behalf. There is always a specific amount of time in which you must spend the money that is in the account. This means, for some of us, that we might have extra money in our account toward the end of the FSA fiscal year. So what should you do with that money before you lose it?
In the past, many folks were able to go on a mini-spending spree at drug stores and purchase helpful items for the entire next year. At one time, Motrin, Tylenol, Claritin, and any other over-the-counter drugs were accepted. However, the law changed a couple of years ago, and now you must have a prescription to purchase these items on your FSA account. If you go to the doctor, it might be a good idea to get him or her to write out some prescriptions for these basics so you can continue to purchase them.
The good news is that there are still certain items you can walk right into your drug store and buy over-the-counter using your FSA debit card. Even better, you can even go online and make your purchases in the comfort of your own home using the account. Just make sure not to purchase anything over $200 at one time; it will be rejected if you try to spend too much at once.
One of the easiest stores to use your FSA debit card is CVS. If you go to the store in person, you can pick up items you believe will be FSA-eligible, take it to the price checker, and scan in the items. The scanner will state whether each product is eligible. On the web site, each item listed also notes whether it is FSA eligible. It is best to test each product and never assume anything. Sometimes two very similar items will have different results; one will be eligible for purchase using the FSA card whereas the other will not. It defies logic, but instead of pondering why, it is better to accept it and move on. So, let's check out some items that are FSA eligible.
Screen Shot of CVS Website
Do you ever have achy joints and you need to apply some heat? Perhaps you just want to relax with a nice warm heating pad on your back. Well, now is the time!
Many heating pads are Flex Spending Account eligible. Some heating pads are specific to your shoulders or your neck. Others can be applied anywhere on your body. If you have a lot of money on your FSA debit card, you can buy different types of heating pads. If you do not intend to put as much money on your account next year, make sure to purchase more than one heating pad with the money you have on the account this year. It never hurts to have a spare heating pad in your home.
Ice Packs and Heat Packs
Aside from heating pads, can also purchase packs to use on sprains, bruises, or pulled muscles. There are a wide variety to choose from. You can use a pad that is strictly a heat patch. You could also purchase one with liquid that can either be heated in the microwave or frozen in the freezer to use later on. Some packs have little pea-shaped balls that feel as if you are applying a frozen bag of peas to your wound. You will have plenty of options depending on your needs.
I've been using a Flexible Spending Account for many years and never realized sunscreen was included on the eligible list. I would have saved so much money if I'd learned this sooner, but now my cabinet is fully stocked withsunscreenafter learning this valuable information.
There are plenty of sunscreen options that work with an FSA debit card. You can purchase a variety of different SPF sunscreens. You can also get sunscreen that is just for your nose or just for your face. The spray kind is often on the FSA eligible list. Many types of lotions are also eligible. You can even purchase sunscreen for your children.
Birth Control Items
Prevention seems to be the theme with the current FSA eligible items. Not only can you prevent skin cancer with the sunscreen, you can also prevent diseases and pregnancy with some of your other options. Any type of birth control is FSA eligible, whether it is over-the-counter or with a prescription.
Condoms in particular are available in stores, as well as online. If you are embarrassed to go in person and walk out with 5 jumbo sized boxes of condoms, then you might want to order them online. For that matter, there are many more options if you order on the CVS website, so it is worth visiting.
If you are concerned that your birth control options may fail, it might also be a good time to buy some pregnancy tests, which are also FSA eligible. If you are trying to get pregnant, then you might want to purchase plenty of pregnancy tests, and some fertility monitor tests, which are Flex Spending Account eligible, too.
If you happen to grind your teeth at night, do I have good news for you! You can totally buy most Grind Guard items using your Flex Spending Account card. Some packs merely have a single dental tray, but others have two in a pack. You can even get a storage container for your dental tray with your FSA card.
Do you wear dentures? If so, you are in real luck. You can purchase items to use with your dentures, such as Poligrip or whitening tablets. Naturally, you can also purchase the actual dentures with your Flexible Spending Account, but you are not going to find them at CVS or Walgreen's. However, you can find plenty of products to use with them.
First Aid Kit
It is important to own a first aid kit. Not only should you have one in your home, you should have one for your car and your job. This is especially the case if you are involved in a dangerous job full of potential injuries.
The Flexible Spending Account system allows you to buy some first aid kits using your account. It is best to go on the CVS website to find out which kids are eligible. It can really be hit or miss, but one first aid kit with a good variety of supplies is FSA eligible. I recommend making that purchase since it has so many helpful items in it.
An FSA Eligible First Aid Kit
Band Aids and pretty much any Band Aid product qualifies for FSA. You can buy little bandages, large bandages, and anything in between. You can even get cartoon characters on your Band Aids if it makes you feel better about your boo-boo.
Not only get you get Band Aids, you can get all types of bandages. This even includes spray-on Band Aids and products specific to blisters. You can even get gauze to help your wounds. For that matter, alcohol swabs are even on the list. I am not sure why, but I can't seem to find rubbing alcohol that qualifies for FSA; just stick with the swabs instead.
Gel insoles to make you feet more comfortable or support the arches in your feet are also eligible for the Flex Spending Account. You can purchase them for both men and women. If you happen to have a problem with foot odor, you are unfortunately out of luck. Insoles that are specific to absorbing odors are not eligible. You can find some insoles that are more absorbent than others that do qualify for FSA spending as long as their main goal is to support your feet.
Sinus Rinse Products
Have you ever wanted to pour water into your nasal passages? No? Really? But it sounds like such fun! OK, so have you ever been forced to use a sinus rinse? Yes, that sounds more like it. Well, good news... many sinus rinse products are FSA eligible.
You have plenty of options, such as a Neti Pot Kit, a pulsating nasal wash kit, or a basic saline rinse. It is available in several different brands and you can opt to buy more than one item in a pack. You will be clearing those nasal passages in no time!
For some reason, thermometers are another example of hit or miss items with the Flexible Spending Account. Some digital thermometers qualify for FSA and some do not. There really is not rhyme or reason behind it as far as I can tell. The thermometers that qualify may be the oral or the ear type. You can also find probe covers for your thermometer as well. Also, price does not seem the influence whether the thermometer will qualify as an FSA item either.
Basically, the Flexible Spending Account system is useful not only for your medical needs, but for some of your medical purchases as well. If you have plenty of money left on your account at the end of the fiscal year, it is a good idea to use some of it for practical items you should probably keep in your home, anyway. Heating pads, ice packs, thermometers, and first aid kits are great purchases for any household.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Jeannie Marie
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on October 28, 2014:
I have never tried that website before. I prefer to use CVS.com since they are reasonably priced and specifically state whether each product qualifies or not.
jellyfish10011 on October 28, 2014:
Is FSAstore.com worth the higher prices? They are more expensive than Amazon and other retailers.
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 17, 2012:
It can be really helpful, although if my company did not contribute to it, I am not sure if I would like it as much. I am glad you liked the hub and thanks for the comment!
Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on December 17, 2012:
My husband's new job offers a flexible spending account and we've seriously been debating whether or not to sign up for it. This is a great list and very helpful. Thanks, Jeannie!
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 12, 2012:
Thank you both for your comments! I am happy to help. The FSA system really is helpful, especially if your employer pays most of it for you. I find CVS to be the most helpful drug store when searching for products that qualify.
Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on December 11, 2012:
Useful information and now I have a better understanding of what such an account can be used for. Great job explaining and providing tips.
Crystal Tatum from Georgia on December 11, 2012:
What a great hub. Knowing that you can purchase these types of items makes an FSA seem more attractive to me. I've always opted out in the past. Voted up and useful.
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 11, 2012:
Thanks so much! Some of these items I did not even know about until writing this hub. I am never paying for my own sunscreen or gel insoles again! :-)
Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on December 11, 2012:
This is a great resource. I do not have an FSA account but I know people that do. And, they probably do not know they can use up some of the money at a drug store. Great hub idea ~ will share this. Thanks Jeannie!
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 10, 2012:
Thanks so much, Ruchira, and yes, you are right. That is a good reminder... always save those receipts!
Ruchira from United States on December 10, 2012:
Resourceful hub, Jeannie
Always retain your receipt after its purchase :)
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 10, 2012:
Thanks so much! My own desire to use my FSA debit card helped inspire this hub. :-)
rodney southern from Greensboro, NC on December 10, 2012:
Now this is an awesome hub that should draw plenty of traffic. Great job of gathering info and presenting it beautifully. Great hub!
Jeannie Marie (author) from Baltimore, MD on December 10, 2012:
shiningirisheyes - I am lucky enough to have some of the money deposited in an account for me. I don't even have to think about it. I am always surprised to see what qualifies for the benefits, too. Thanks for your comment!
Allen Williams - I am happy to help! I can't stand the thought of losing money at the end of each fiscal year, so I buy items from CVS at the last minute. I did learn it helps to at least buy them a week in advance though. My co-worker tried to use her account on the last day, but had problems. She is trying to work it out with the FSA people now. Thanks for the votes!
Allen Williams from Pennsylvania on December 10, 2012:
Just moments ago before seeing your hub, I was just discussing this very subject with my daughter in law. Good hub, voted up and useful!
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on December 10, 2012:
I do not have access to this type of account but what a great addition to any work benefit plan. It is refreshing to read about some positive benefits to workers for a change.