10 Surprising Eligible Expenses for Your FSA and HSA

Now — maybe more than ever — is a great time to have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). 

While there are differences between FSAs and HSAs, both types of accounts offer you a unique benefit — the ability to purchase certain medical goods and services with pre-tax dollars. Allowing you to save on your tax bill, while taking care of your family’s healthcare needs. 

And, with updated federal legislation in force, the list of eligible purchases is longer than you probably realize. Of course, make sure to check with your tax professional or HR department to confirm what is or isn’t eligible, as some things may vary by plan.  

Here are 10 surprising things you may be able to buy with your FSA or HSA: 

1. Over-the-counters medications 

With the passage of the CARES Act, over-the-counter medications are now classified as eligible expenses for FSA & HSA spending. Previously, OTC medications had been excluded, while only prescriptions were eligible. 

So, you should now be able to use pre-tax funds to buy your family’s pain relievers, decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, allergy pills, heartburn medications, vitamins, oral pain gels, cough drops, cold sore ointments, sleep aids, sinus rinses, lidocaine patches, children’s medications, and more. 

2. Products for that time of the month 

In addition to authorizing use of FSA/HSA funds for OTC medicines, the CARES Act made feminine hygiene products permanently eligible as well. 

So, your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account dollars should cover the costs for tampons, pads, liners, menstrual cups, and period underwear. And take care of yourself during that time by using your FSA/HSA funds for OTC pain relief medication and heat therapy products. 

3. COVID-19 prevention & treatment 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS announced that FSA/HSA money could be used to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) aimed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the authorization extends back to January 1st of 2020, so you can seek reimbursement from your spending account if you purchased PPE within that timeframe. 

You can now use tax-free dollars to pay for face masks, hand sanitizers, and alcohol wipes. Plus, while the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) should make COVID-19 tests free for most people, you’re able to withdraw FSA/HSA dollars to cover testing expenses for COVID-19. 

Plus, look to your FSA or HSA for OTC medications to alleviate COVID-19 symptoms, thermometers, pulse oximeters, hospitalization fees, and therapies aimed at treating long-term effects of the disease. 

4. Mental health care 

FSA and HSA savings aren’t just aimed at protecting your physical wellness. In fact, you can use those funds to pay for a variety of mental health services. 

Check with your program about withdrawing money from your FSA/HSA for talk therapy or psychiatric medications. The funds may also cover online therapy options, text therapy, and hypnotherapy. Use your FSA or HSA for addiction treatment and even meditation apps. 

Keep in mind that these services may require a Letter of Medical Necessity in order to be covered. And not all therapies are covered. For instance, marriage and family counseling are generally considered non-medical services, so they typically won’t be eligible for FSA/HSA spending. 

5. Some skincare products 

FSA and HSA monies can typically be used to purchase a variety of skin-related products. Tackle acne with facial cleansers, acne medication (even the OTC varieties), oil-absorbing sheets, acne spot treatments or treatment pads, acne body wash, oil-free moisturizers, and acne scrubs. 

Protect yourself from UV rays with sunscreen, SPF moisturizers, and SPF hand creams. And soothe eczema and rosacea flare-ups with prescription medications that treat those skin conditions. 

6. Pain treatments 

Medications aren’t the only method for treating pain, so your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account pays for more than just pills. 

With a Letter of Medical Necessity, the money in those accounts can be applied to massage therapy. So, your doctor can give you the go-ahead for therapeutic massage addressing arthritis, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. 

Likewise, acupuncture expenses are eligible for FSA/HSA funds use, though you may require a Letter of Medical Necessity. At your doctor’s discretion, you might be able to apply those savings to chiropractic or naturopathy services as well.  

7. Heat & cold therapies 

Speaking of pain relief and management, your FSA and HSA balances may apply to a number of heat therapy and cold therapy products. 

Buy a heating pad, heated neck rest, adhesive heat wrap, weighted heat wrap, hot compress, or even a children’s thermal therapy stuffed animal. (Sorry, your hot tub isn’t eligible!) 

Or turn down the temperature with a variety of eligible cold therapy products. Pick up ice bags, instant cold packs, cooling gel sheets, cold compresses, and chilled eye masks — all with your FSA or HSA funds. 

8. Pregnancy & postpartum supplies 

Everyone knows that having a baby isn’t cheap. Fortunately, your FSA and HSA have you covered. 

It may be possible to tap those funds when you’re ready for a baby and looking to purchase pregnancy tests, fertility treatments, and fertility trackers. Support your health and your growing baby’s with prenatal vitamins, maternity support belts, visits to your OB, and that trip to the hospital. 

Once your bundle of joy arrives, attend to your postpartum medical needs with those same savings accounts. Purchase C-section recovery wraps, postpartum pelvic support, and plenty of nursing supplies. You can pick up a breast pump with its accessories (tote bag, cleaning products, and extra parts), disposable nursing pads, breast milk storage supplies (like coolers, bottles, and milk storage bags), and even nursing creams. 

9. Select baby supplies 

Make your newborn’s first year a little less expensive by using your Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account to pay for eligible baby costs. 

Pick up a baby monitor, purchase some swaddles, and buy an infant thermometer. Grab some baby medicines, medication dispensers, bandages, and nasal aspirators. 

Scoop up creams for diaper rash, baby eczema, and sun protection. As your little one grows, you can even use your FSA/HSA dollars for some eligible potty-training pants. As always, check with your plan provider to make sure specific expenses are covered. 

10. Smoking cessation therapies 

If you’re ready to quit smoking, your FSA and HSA are there to help. Over-the-counter smoking cessation products are eligible for use with these tax-advantaged accounts. 

You can step down your nicotine consumption with OTC patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal sprays. Or buy a nicotine inhaler and its supporting cartridges to wean yourself off your cigarettes. 

With a Letter of Medical Necessity, you can even use your FSA and HSA dollars for hypnotherapy sessions aimed at helping you kick your nicotine habit. 

Contributing to a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account is a smart way to save significantly on your family’s well-being. Your tax-advantaged savings can support your physical and mental health through every stage of life. And these handy accounts can help you build a strong financial future going forward.  

The material presented here is for informational purposes only and does not represent specific financial advice to you or your circumstances personally.