FSA-Eligible Products Wirecutter Loves

FSA-Eligible Products Wirecutter Loves

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Most people end up using their FSA throughout the year to pay for things like doctor visits, medications, glasses, and contacts. But because most FSAs have a use-it-or-lose it policy, any balance you have left over at the end of the year could very well disappear.

And because of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has made helpful changes that you should know about.

See if your employer has changed its FSA program rules

The coronavirus pandemic has flipped many Americans’ budgets upside down and what you may have felt was a reasonable FSA contribution at the beginning of the year may now be money you’d prefer to have in pocket. Similarly, you may now want to set aside more tax-advantaged funds for medical expenses than you’d originally planned.

To help, the federal government has loosened some FSA restrictions; you can now make mid-year changes to your FSA contributions (these are typically fixed after your open enrollment election). You can cancel these contributions, or you can change the amount you contribute. The 2020 carryover limit has been slightly increased from $500 to $550. And if you had unused contributions, you can now use them for eligible expenses incurred through Dec. 31, 2020 (rather than the former two and a half month grace period).

If your employer hasn’t already sent out a notice about the changes, check in with your HR department.

Check the balance on your account

If it’s been a while since you last used your FSA, look at your balance before you embark on a race against the clock to spend what’s left. To access your FSA account, you’ll have to log in to your provider’s website. To find your FSA provider, also known as your “third party administrator,” flip over your FSA card and take a look at the fine print on the back. You should see the name, number, and website of your provider. If you can’t find this information, call your employer’s HR department—it’ll have the answer.

Confirm your spending deadline

Your FSA account should also display your spending deadline, typically the last day of your plan year, which is the 12-month period of benefits coverage you have under a group or employer health plan. The last day of your plan year often coincides with the last day of the year, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes employers give you a grace period of 2½ extra months to use up your funds—if this is true for you, you’ll see that info in your FSA provider’s online portal. In addition, some FSAs may let you roll over up to $500 for use the following year (again, contact your HR department if you can’t confirm this with your FSA provider).

Remember to submit your receipts

Have you ever been a bit nervous walking through airport security, worrying that they’re going to find something on you even though you know you’re not packing? That’s what submitting FSA receipts is like. Even when you know you’re allowed to spend the money on things like sunblock, teeth whitening kits, or a new pair of glasses, there’s a nagging voice telling you that your FSA provider might reject your purchases. But you’ll be fine as long as you hold on to your receipts (if you easily misplace things, buying online is the best way to keep track of them). Submitting is easy enough, too, since FSA providers let you file claims online.

If you bought medication, paid a co-pay, or made any other eligible purchase on your own dime during the year, you can submit the itemized receipt (if you still have it) in your FSA provider’s online portal, after which you’ll be reimbursed with funds from your account. Now would be a great time to scroll through your Amazon order history from the last 12 months to see if anything you’ve bought qualifies.

Where can I shop?

If you’re picking up a few inexpensive items, like sunblock or contact lens solution, the FSA sections at Amazon, Walmart, or CVS are great places to start.

But FSA-specific retailers, like the FSA Store, can make shopping for items that qualify for reimbursement really simple. Everything sold at the FSA Store is approved for FSA spending, and anything that requires a prescription or a doctor’s note (like over-the-counter medication) is clearly marked. You’ll have to order at least $50 worth of stuff to qualify for free shipping from the FSA Store, so if you’re buying particularly pricey supplies, this could be an extremely convenient option.

What should I buy?

When you think FSA, your mind probably goes straight to prescription drugs and co-pays. But many more items are FSA-eligible, including things like neck pillows, heating pads, and Waterpiks. The FSA Store provides a comprehensive list of everything that’s eligible (and everything that’s not).

Wirecutter also recommends quite a few FSA-eligible products. Here are some of our favorites:

Sunscreen

Coppertone sunscreen
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

You should wear sunscreen every day—not just when you hit the beach—to help protect yourself against burns, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Any broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater is FSA-eligible. Below are the ones we recommend in our guides to the best sunscreens and the best face sunscreens (and they’re all SPF 30 or higher).

  • Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70
    Street price: $8
  • No-Ad Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
    Street price: $10
  • CVS Health Clear Zinc Sun Lotion SPF 50
    Street price: $7
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance Clear UltraMist Sunscreen SPF 100
    Street price: $10
  • Thinksport SPF 50+ Sunscreen
    Street price: $12
  • Kiss My Face Face Factor Sunscreen SPF 30
    Street price: $12
  • CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 30
    Street price: $13
  • Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50
    Street price: $22

First aid kits

First aid kit
Photo: Rozette Rago

Every home and car should have a first aid kit—it’s a purchase you won’t regret making. Preassembled medical kits are FSA-eligible (as are separate medical supplies, like bandages and burn ointment). First aid kits are also a must-have if you like to hike, camp, or venture off the grid.

  • Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman 300
    Street price: $75
  • Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman 400
    Street price: $125
  • Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Backpacker Kit
    Street price: $40
  • Mountain Series Day Tripper
    Street price: $28
  • First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit
    Street price: $15

Neti pots

Neti pot
Photo: Michael Hession

Winter has arrived, which means colds, sinus infections, and nasal dryness are on their way. Enter neti pots for nasal irrigation: Though it may not feel pleasant to rinse your sinuses with a saline solution, the results are worth it. And guess what? The three models we recommend in our guide to the best neti pots are all FSA-eligible.

  • Aromatic Salt Premium Ceramic Neti Pot
    Street price: $15
  • NeilMed NasaFlo Neti Pot
    Street price: $14
  • Neilmed Sinus Rinse Starter Kit (5 packets)
    Street price: about $7

Breast pumps

Breast pump
Photo: Michelle McSwain

A reliable breast pump is a necessity for nursing mothers. And luckily, whether you’re looking for a manual pump or an electric pump, all of our picks are FSA-eligible.

  • Spectra S1
    Street price: $200
  • Spectra S2
    Street price: $160
  • Medela Harmony
    Street price: $30
  • Medela Pump in Style Advanced (Tote)
    Street price: $200
  • Medela Pump in Style Advanced (Backpack)
    Street price: $155
  • Philips Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump
    Street price: $25
  • Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
    Street price: $16

Heating pads

Heating pad
Photo: Michael Hession

You don’t realize your home is missing a heating pad until you desperately need one. They’re perfect for soothing aching backs, relieving unrelenting menstrual cramps, and even keeping kittens warm. Both of Wirecutter’s picks for the best heating pad qualify for FSA reimbursement.

  • PureRelief Heating Pad
    Street price: $35
  • Sunbeam King Size XpressHeat
    Street price: $37

Air purifiers

Air purifiers
Photo: Sarah Kobos

A great air purifier has the ability to really improve your life—so if you’re at all concerned about the air quality in your home, it’s time to invest in one. Truly great purifiers, like the ones we recommend in our guide, can improve your sleep, reduce your allergies, or even lessen your asthma symptoms. (Just steer clear of the Molekule.)

  • Coway AP-1512HH Mighty
    Street price: $152
  • Blueair Blue Pure 211+
    Street price: $280
  • Austin Air HealthMate HM400
    Street price: $586
  • Blueair Blue Pure 411
    Street price: $100

Blood pressure monitors

Blood pressure monitor
Photo: Sarah Kobos

An easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor can be a vital health management tool, but keep in mind that home monitoring is meant to accompany—not replace—regular monitoring by a physician. The three we recommend in our guide to the best blood pressure monitors for home use are easy to use, fast, comfortable, and FSA-eligible.

  • Beurer BM55
    Street price: $53
  • A&D UA-767F
    Street price: $45
  • Omron Evolv
    Street price: $60

TENS units

TENS units
Photo: Sarah Kobos

If you’re someone who suffers from muscle and joint pain, a TENS unit may provide relief by pulsing electricity through your muscles. Whether you experience acute pain from a sports injury, menstrual cramps, or a chronic condition, a TENS unit might be the answer. In our guide to the best TENS units, we recommend an under-$50 device that is FSA-eligible.

  • Prospera Magic TENS
    Street price: $30

Thermometers

Vicks thermometer
Photo: Michael Hession

A digital thermometer is the easiest way to accurately assess an illness at home. Our guide to the best thermometer for kids and adults offers a variety of options, from oral for grown-ups to ear or forehead for young ones, and all of them qualify for FSA reimbursement.

  • Vicks ComfortFlex
    Street price: $10
  • iProven DMT-489
    Street price: $30
  • Kinsa Ear
    Street price: $38
  • Braun No Touch Forehead Thermometer
    Street price: $55

Prescription glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses

Glasses from an online store
Photo: Michael Hession

An impending use-it-or-lose-it FSA deadline is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a new pair of stylish glasses (or a good opportunity to buy a back-up pair). You can use your FSA funds to buy prescription glasses of any kind, including sunglasses and contact lenses. Even maintenance supplies, like lens cleaners, microfiber cloths, repair kits, saline solution, and contact lens cases, are eligible. If you’re not sure where to look, we recommend a few retailers in our guide to the best places to buy glasses online.

  • Liingo Eyewear
  • Zenni Optical

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter
Keyword: FSA-Eligible Products Wirecutter Loves

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