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Overestimated your FSA this year? Put these health products on your shopping list

Person measuring blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor

Don’t lose your unused health account funds at year’s end. Here are some ideas for what to spend them on.

It’s closing in on the end of the year, and your flexible spending account (FSA) still has some funds in it. And you’re all out of ideas for what to use them on.

First things first: An FSA is a type of health account in which you set aside pretax dollars to pay for certain medical and health expenses.1 It’s a great tool to help offset the cost of health care.

But FSAs are typically “use it or lose it.” In other words, you must spend your FSA funds by the end of the year, and you can’t roll your funds over to the next year.

If you overestimated your FSA this year, don’t stress. Here are some ideas for using your leftover FSA funds.

Father and toddler son shopping for health essentials online
Stock up on all your health essentials

Optum Store has the products you love at everyday low prices. Use your HSA/FSA dollars to save even more.

Get a massage at home

A massage gun can help relieve tightness in your muscles, increase blood flow, relieve stress and improve soreness after a workout.2 And you can buy one with your FSA dollars (though, you may need a physician’s note when purchasing it).

Some smaller massage devices offer vibration therapy in an easy-to-hold size. They can help massage away pain hot spots in your feet, knees, and neck.

Soothe your sore muscles

If you’re dealing with pain in your hands from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), you’ve probably applied heat to it for some relief. Red light therapy is also being investigated as a way to relieve CTS, ankle and knee pain, too.3

A great FSA-eligible idea: light therapy pads, which may help ease achy muscles and stiff joints. They may also help with sports injuries, arthritis and neuropathy (numbness or pain from nerve damage). You might even start feeling better in just 20 minutes.

Your hands, ankles and knees aren’t the only parts of your body that could benefit from light therapy. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis in your feet, you may get some relief from light therapy slippers.3 Just choose the size that fits your feet, plug them in and relax.

Prep for your next outdoor adventure

Outdoor activities are a great way to get exercise and relieve stress. But being prepared for them is a must. That’s true whether you’re spending a day at the beach or a week in the woods. And when you’re away from home, it’s important to have first aid supplies on hand.

You might have your own first-aid kit. And you can certainly buy adhesive bandages to add to it with your FSA. But you can also buy a pre-stocked, FSA-eligible first aid kit. They come with supplies such as bandages and antibiotic ointment to treat and prevent infection of small cuts and scrapes. Some kits even include a rescue whistle to let people know you’re in trouble.

Need more for your peace of mind? Larger first aid kits include more tools that can help manage outdoor emergencies, including a:

  • CPR shield, which helps protect against disease transmission while giving CPR
  • Finger splint, to stabilize a broken or injured finger
  • Tear-away pouch you can use as a mini first aid kit
  • Thermometer, to monitor for fever

And don’t forget sunscreen, which is important to wear in any season. It helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. You can even get a sunburn from sunlight reflecting off snow.4 Be especially careful if you go skiing, as UV levels increase with altitude.4,5

Join the clear-skin club

Sun exposure isn’t the only issue that can affect your skin. From acne to eczema (a skin condition that causes an itchy, dry rash), your body’s biggest organ can really take a beating.

You can use your FSA dollars to buy items such as acne medicine, lip balm and moisturizer. Acne body wash can help fight acne breakouts while preventing skin dryness. Or you could try an anti-acne light therapy device. It uses light therapy to soothe inflammation and reduce future acne flare-ups.

Use your HSA/FSA to save on thousands of health expenses from medical copays to pain relievers. See if your health expenses qualify with our free medical expense eligibility tool.

Monitor your blood pressure

Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. And many of them don’t know it. That’s because high blood pressure usually doesn’t have symptoms. Left untreated, it may lead to heart attack and stroke. That’s why knowing your numbers is important.6,7

Your health care provider can check your blood pressure at their office. But you can too. Use your FSA funds to buy a smart blood pressure monitor. They’re accurate and easy to use, and it can send your results to an app on your smartphone.

Take care of your gut

You might occasionally enjoy foods such as burgers or spicy chili, even if they give you acid reflux. Thankfully, you can use your FSA funds to buy medicines that help relieve heartburn.

Or maybe constipation is an issue now and then. Why not use your FSA dollars to stock up on OTC medicine that can provide relief? These include stool softeners and bulk-forming laxatives.

Have health care expenses that didn’t make this list? They could still be eligible for purchase through your FSA. To find others, use the Optum Financial qualified medical expense tool.

Sources

  1. Internal Revenue Service. Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans. Published 2022. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Try a massage gun for relieving aches and pains. Published February 14, 2023. Accessed November 16, 2023.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Red light therapy. Last reviewed December 1, 2021. Accessed November 16, 2023.
  4. NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. Sunscreen in the winter? Published January 11, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Calculating the UV Index. Last updated October 26, 2022. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts About Hypertension. Last updated July 6, 2023. Accessed October 19, 2023.
  7. MedlinePlus. High Blood Pressure. Last updated November 20, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2023.

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