We are approaching the end of the calendar year and while to most that means preparing for the holidays, for those with Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) it also means looking for creative and clever ways to use up your remaining account balance before you lose it.
Understanding FSA and How To Use It
What is FSA and HSA?
A Flex Spending Account, or FSA, is an account typically provided by your employer that allows you to deposit pre-tax funds to an account that may be used for out of pocket medical expenses including everything from surgeries, to yoga mats, to hand sanitizer.
What is the Difference Between a FSA and HSA?
An FSA is similar to an HSA ( Health Savings Account) in that it is an account to be used for medical expenses, however there are a few important differences to take note of. The most notable difference is that unlike HSA funds, your FSA will not roll over from year to year - at least not all of it. Your employer may provide you with one of two options:
- Roll over up to $500 per year, or
- Provide a grace period of up to two months
Other differences between HSA and FSA accounts include differences in contribution limits, qualifications, account ownership, and withdrawal penalties, among other things.
What Can I Purchase With My FSA?
As we mentioned, FSA is generally used for paying for various out of pocket health care expenses.
Unless you have a few doctor's appointments to schedule for the remainder of the year, you may be left wondering what other things you can spend with your FSA balance. You might actually be surprised to know that you can use your FSA for more things than just doctor's appointment and medical devices.
Here are some useful and creative ways to spend your FSA:
A great option for anyone suffering from foot pain, back pain, or if you find yourself on your feet for long periods of time, shoe insoles are an inexpensive solution for pain. Insoles are available in a variety of sizes and for different conditions.
Get them here starting at $7.95.
Also known as kinesiology tape, KT tape is an adhesive elastic strip that is used to treat pain and athletic injuries. Many people use KT tape daily to help manage pain with much success.
Get it here for $19.00.
Compression Eye Pillow
With gentle compression, the IMAK Eye Pillow blocks out light and provides a subtle pressure around the eyes to aid in sleeping and reducing sinus headaches. It can also be placed in the freezer to provide cold therapy to the eye area.
Get it here for $18.99.
The TheraBand Foot Roller is an affordable, simple, and effective tool that helps provide relief from foot pain associated with common conditions and excessive activity. A foot roller is a great solution for people suffering from heel pain, plantar fasciitis, or anyone who spends a significant amount of time standing throughout the day.
Get it here for $12.99.
Whether you are recovering from surgery or a sprained ankle, a walking boot can be helpful to stabilize and provide support to the ankle or foot. They are great items to have on hand should you ever find yourself in need of one!
Get one here starting at $32.99.
Similar to a walking boot, a simple ankle brace helps to stabilize and relieve symptoms associated with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, and heel pain by applying compression. This compression will help reduce swelling and increase circulation to the area.
Get it here for $33.90.
With many of us experiencing neck pain these days, neck traction devices help to relieve pain and tension in your neck by gently stretching and relaxing your muscles. There are traction units ranging from simple and inexpensive inflatable options, to motorized devices.
Get one here for $34.99
With many of us experiencing wrist and thumb pain from excessive use of cell phones and computers, a nighttime wrist splint is a great option to help reduce wrist pain from carpal tunnel. The IMAK Pil-O-Splint features soft cotton lining extending to fingertips to keep fingers from moving while sleeping.
Get it here for $24.99
Compression Garments are pieces of clothing such as socks,stocking, and sleeves that provide support that is especially useful for people who stand for long periods of time, or people with poor circulation. The garments can come in varying degrees of compression to provide the specific support needed for each individual.
Get it here starting at $11.99.
Take temperature with ease with this simple to use non-contact thermometer. This infrared thermometer provides a contact free, accurate reading within seconds making taking the temperature of little ones a breeze.
Get it here for $39.95.
A proven effective method for providing target cold therapy for areas of injury, these moldable, gel filled cold packs won't freeze solid and can maintain up to 30 minutes of cold therapy. Available in 4 difference sizes to fit different areas of the body.
Get it here for $16.00
Moist Heating Pad
A great solution to treating pain associated with arthritis, muscle spasms, and tension these digital moist heating pads provide intense moist heat to relieve tension and stress within the muscles. This moist heating pad is available in 3 different sizes and features digital controls and a temperature range from 113-166 degrees.
Get it here for $59.99
Biofreeze gel provides effective temporary relief from sore muscles and joints, sprains, strains, and bruises in areas such as the feet, back wrist, neck, shoulders, and more.
Get it here starting at $32.95
Cold Compression Wrap
Helpful for reducing pain and inflammation, combing cold therapy with compression is an effective tool for treating injury and even pain due to arthritis. Available for the shoulder, knee, leg, back, etc. Hyperice makes some of the best cold compression devices in the industry.
Get it here starting at $79.00
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, also known as TENS Therapy is an effective, medication free way to relieve pain in various areas of the body. While a TENS Unit typically requires a prescription for purchase, it is available to be purchased with FSA or HSA funds.
Get it here starting at $32.99.
*TENS units require a prescription for purchase.
Cold Therapy Unit
Designed to provide effective cold therapy post surgery or injury, Motorized Cold Therapy Units are a great option for pain relief. Each unit comes with a pad attachment to deliver targeted cold therapy to areas such as the knee, shoulder, elbow, back, and more.
Get it here starting at $114.25
*Cold Therapy units require a prescription for purchase.
Can I Purchase These Same Items with My HSA?
Yes, you can! Your HSA allows you access to the exact same purchase options that your FSA will. For a full list of items and services you can pay for with your HSA, click here.