Air purifier

Essentials You Can Buy With an FSA Now to Keep the Money From Going to Waste

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Air purifier

Healthy Investments

With routine health visits and procedures being put off because of the coronavirus crisis, many Americans may have money set aside in flexible spending accounts that will go to waste if unused. Steps have been taken to lessen potential losses, among these IRS mandates allowing employers to give workers the option to decrease contributions or stop having FSA money deducted from paychecks altogether. Better yet, provisions in the CARES Act have expanded the list of eligible items that funds can be used to purchase, including over-the-counter medicines and feminine care products. So, if you still find yourself with lots of use-it-or-lose-it cash left, it's time to start putting those pretax dollars toward health and personal care products you would otherwise buy out-of-pocket. Use this list of FSA-eligible products to help cut everyday expenses and avoid squandering the hard-earned money you've stockpiled. You may be surprised how many ways you can spend FSA money.

Related: 50 Simple Ways for Seniors to Save on Medical Expenses

Contactless delivery at the entrance of the apartment.

Online Purchases

You can buy FSA-eligible items in a variety of places, from doctors', optometrists', and dentists' offices to medical supply outlets, local pharmacies, and certain big-box stores, among other merchants. But has it occurred to you to use your FSA card online? FSA Store sells only eligible items, including prepackaged bundles for everything from baby care to back-to-school, and lets buyers use their FSA debit cards directly. (The site also has a detailed list of eligibility requirements for a host of common items, as well as products and services that are not covered.) Amazon has an FSA/HSA storefront and now accepts the cards for payment.

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Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications no longer require prescriptions to be eligible as FSA expenses — everything from aspirin and pain relievers to OTC allergy relief medicines are now fair game for immediate purchase. Even better, the new exemption applies retroactively to products bought since the beginning of the year, so gather up any receipts since Jan. 1 and submit those for reimbursement.

Related: 25 Things to Buy at Costco and Sam's for Emergencies (Besides Toilet Paper)

Tampons Are Often Taxed As Though They're Optional
Daniela Staerk/shutterstock

Feminine Products

The addition of feminine products is another game changer. Not having to pay out of pocket for tampons, pads, menstrual cups, and even "period panties" can save women with extra funds in FSA accounts at least one huge monthly headache during cash-strapped times. Here's hoping that these products' eligibility for pretax purchase carries over post-pandemic.

Related: 11 Things That Cost More for Women (or Men)

bag with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer

Disposable Masks

Doing your part to help check the spread of COVID-19 may just come with health savings attached. While face coverings usually require a "letter of medical necessity" to be bought with flex dollars, our look at administrators' FAQs suggests that at least some are loosening reimbursement requirements in light of recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all Americans stay masked up. Check your individual plan to see if masks are FSA-eligible.

Related: Masks and Accessories to Make Covering Your Face More Comfortable

Air purifier

Air Purifiers and Inhalers

If you're thinking about buying an air purifier to help clear contaminants from the air at home, you should know that you'll need a letter of medical necessity to pick one up with FSA funds; usually only asthmatics or people with severe allergies are considered eligible. We also saw some complaints from FSA holders about more expensive models, such as the ever-popular Dyson line, being turned down for claims. So, be prepared to consider less pricey purifiers, get your paperwork in order, and keep performance expectations realistic — there's a good deal of debate as to whether air purifiers can help with COVID-19, as well as whether they can make any health claims at all. Continue to follow CDC guidelines for protecting yourself from the coronavirus, and if you're looking for a simple, non-prescription device to keep you breathing easier during the approaching cold and flu season, think about a personal steam inhaler.

Pulse Oximeter

Diagnostic Tools and COVID-Monitoring Must-Haves

Many products meant to monitor health at home are fully covered for flex spending, from blood pressure cuffs to thyroid test kits. If you're most interested in keeping an eye out for potential coronavirus symptoms, it's certainly worth investing in some "virus preparedness" supplies. Upgrade your temperature taker with surplus FSA dollars. Opt for a digital version, an ear thermometer, or an infrared forehead thermometer for a quick and contactless reading. You might also want to pick up a pulse oximeter to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels. The FSAstore has even added a COVID-19 at-home test to its inventory.


Diabetes Supplies

Diabetics require a lot of provisions to manage their health on a day-to-day basis. While insurance plans often cover the costs of basic diabetic-care devices, FSA funds can come in handy if you're taxed with paying for blood-sugar testing kits and other supplies on your own. Aside from glucose monitors, lancets, and test strips, pretax dollars can be used to buy insulin pen needles, alcohol swabs, and handy accessories, such as this convenient insulated carrying case with gel pack to keep supplies safe on the go. None of these items need prescriptions for purchase.

Related: 29 Foods Diabetics Should Avoid

First-Aid Supplies


If you're trying to protect your overall health, you really shouldn't cut corners when it comes to skin care. You can go with inexpensive-but-effective sunscreens, or you can splurge on the good stuff, such as La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, which earned a rating of "excellent" from Consumer Reports. You can find it on Amazon for about $30 to $40. Many organic brands also qualify for FSA spending.


Glasses and Contacts

If you wear contact lenses, you're familiar with how costly they can be. Fortunately, contact lenses, drops, saline solution — even glasses — are all eligible FSA items. You can quickly order a replacement pair for those pesky, always-missing readers today.

Related: 18 Places to Buy Glasses Online for Less

Pregnancy Tests

Pregnancy Tests

Finding out if you're going to be a parent is an emotional and sometimes costly process. Lighten some of the financial burden with your FSA account. Ovulation testing kits are also approved.

Prenatal Vitamins
Olena Yakobchuk/shutterstock
Relaxation Masks and Massagers

Relaxation Masks and Massagers

We're all probably feeling a lot more stress than we'd like right now. While it may not be the time for in-person alternative treatments — such as acupuncture, which, by the way, you are allowed to pay for using FSA money — there are a lot of soothing health products you can sample at home. Indulge in a little DIY pampering with an aromatherapy relaxation mask or one that provides vibrating pain relief, an acupressure mat, a foot massager, or a body-calming heating pad.

Related: 33 Inexpensive Products to Ease Stress at Home