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10 Ways to Spend FSA Dollars Before it’s Too Late

With the deadline to use your 2022 FSA dollars looming, here’s a list of eligible expenses.

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If you’re among the more than 32 million Americans who have a health care flexible spending account, or FSA, it’s time to use it or lose it. Most FSA dollars must be used within the calendar year or they are lost. 

“People are losing funds. We estimate $1 billion is forfeited in FSA dollars every year,” says Rachel Rouleau, chief compliance officer at Health-E Commerce, which runs 

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The good news is that there are lots of things you can spend your FSA dollars on. Moreover, shopping for FSA-eligible products is easier than ever. Most large retailers — including Walmart, Amazon, CVS and Target — have an inventory system in place that automatically identifies items as eligible expenses once you swipe or input your FSA card details, says Nicky Brown, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at HealthEquity, a health savings account administrator. Websites like sell FSA-eligible products, grouping them in categories based on the disease or ailment. “Hundreds of merchants have these inventory systems in place to make it easy,” Brown says.  ​

FSA dollars can be spent on many things, including the following:

1. Doctors and medicine. If you need to see your doctor or a specialist and can get an appointment, FSA dollars can be used to cover any copayments and medicine prescribed to you. You can even use the money for previous out-of-pocket expenses. “The most common thing people can do is submit any outstanding eligible medical expenses like doctors, dentists, copays or coinsurance,” Rouleau says. “It also qualifies for dependents, which includes children through the age of 26.” 

2. Travel costs for medical care. Transportation costs — whether to get to and from essential doctor’s appointments or medical care — can be paid with FSA money. That includes gas, parking and tolls, as well as bus, taxi and train fares.

3. Over-the-counter hearing aids. This summer the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light for consumers with mild-to-moderate hearing impairment to buy hearing aids directly from stores and online without the need for a medical exam, a prescription or a fitting by an audiologist. Those hearing aids can be purchased with FSA dollars. ​

4. Pain management. Whether you have arthritis, a bad back, or other aches and pains, products you purchase for relief are eligible FSA expenses. That includes heating pads, muscle pain relief devices, muscle rollers, arthritis gloves, Epsom salt, bandages, pain relief creams and more. ​

5. 23andMe Health Service. Among the uncommon things you can use your FSA dollars for is this home DNA test kit, Rouleau points out. The kit gives you personalized genetic insight into your health so you can make more informed decisions.​

6. Over-the-counter medicine. Passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act made OTC medicine like aspirin, allergy relief and antacids eligible expenses. Now you can use FSA money to buy allergy, cough and headache medicine, among many others. “This is a good time to stock the medicine cabinet,” says Charlene Rhinehart, personal finance editor at GoodRx.​

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7. Prescription sunglasses and readers. Whether you have a prescription or not, your sunglasses, readers, contact lenses, eye exams and deductibles are eligible FSA expenses. You can use your money in optical stores, online and in any store that sells glasses. If the retailer doesn’t accept your FSA card, you can submit the receipt to your FSA provider for reimbursement. 

8. Sunscreen. About 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. What’s more, having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. So it’s not surprising that you can use FSA dollars for sunscreen and other skin care products that protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. The sunscreen has to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, according to GoodRx. ​

9. Feminine care products. Another byproduct of the CARES Act is that Congress expanded the list of FSA-eligible items and now you can use your money to purchase menstruation products, be it tampons, pads, panty liners or sponges. Even pain relief for menstrual cramps is considered an eligible expense. ​

10. Vitamins, orthopedic shoes, wigs and nutritional counseling — with a catch.  Beyond the thousands of FSA-eligible items — which also includes things like wheelchairs, lip balm and some skin care products — your FSA dollars can be used for vitamins, orthopedic shoes, wigs and even nutritional counseling. There is a catch: You’ll need a medical letter of necessity from your doctor to get reimbursement for these expenses. 

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