FSAfilter: help me spend $250 on useful medicines/ vitamins before the end of the year.
December 12, 2006 10:00 AM   Subscribe

My Flexible Spending Account (FSA) has about $250 left on it to be used by the end of December - it's use it or lose it, so I'm looking for ideas on the most useful things I can spend this money on within the next 3 weeks. I am potentially interested in stocking a basic medicine cabinet items that would be useful for a baby/ small child.

The baby is due to arrive in March, and I have little experience or knowledge regarding what medicines may be good to have on hand in the future. Baby asprin, sure, but are there other perhaps not so obvious good-to-haves?

I'm also considering stocking up on other basics for adult use, like good quality vitamin C tablets.

My FSA covers standard pharmacy purchases, like throat lozenges, theraflu, ibuprofen, vitamins, bandaids etc.

I do not have any prescription medications that require filling, and I have fully used up my annual dental benefits.
posted by netsirk to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you get a baby thermometer? Diaper rash cream?
posted by true at 10:03 AM on December 12, 2006

Check this list.
posted by nineRED at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2006

Best answer: If you'll be nursing, stock up on prenatal vitamins because even post natal you're going to need that little extra to feed the wee'un.
Post-labor, cold and warm packs are good to have around, and later the cold packs can be used to keep milk from souring in the diaper bag.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2006

Best answer: Please double-check about the vitamins. When the IRS changed the rules to allow OTC drugs to be reimbursed via FSA, they excluded dietary supplements. Here's the IRS publication about deductible medical expenses. For FSA's, you can reimburse all these plus OTC drugs. Your plan may restrict you further, but they can't add in categories that the IRS does not allow.

In addition, you're only allowed to claim expenses for people who are your dependents at the time of the services or the payment for services. So pre-stocking for your baby due in March is not officially sanctioned.

You may have a grace period that extends beyond December. My plan, for example, just added a grace period so that expenses incurred (not just paid, but also incurred) up to 90 days after the end of the plan year are reimbursable from the previous year's money.
posted by expialidocious at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2006

Forgot to add, a common use for that amount of FSA money in December is eye care. Even if you don't need glasses, go for a high-quality eye exam for you and any dependents. Glaucoma can sneak up on you, and you'd never know without a good eye exam.
posted by expialidocious at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2006

Go get a massage or three! Massages are great for pregnant women.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2006

You may have more time available. Double check with your HR department: the IRS allows these plans to set a deadline early in the following year for incurred expenses. In my plan, I have until 3/15 to incur and 6/15 to submit.

And, previously answered, lots of good input there.
posted by beagle at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2006

Some plans, like the federal governments, go to March 15, so check your brochure or call your plan administrator.

BTW, we don't give aspirin to children anymore, even babies. Baby aspirin is for men over 50.
posted by faceonmars at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2006

ps - you'll need a referral from a physician to get massages reimbursed by FSA. During pregnancy, you can usually call the nurse line of your OB/GYN office, complain of pain, and ask them to send a referral to a practitioner of your choice.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:04 AM on December 12, 2006

Best answer: I don't have any specific suggestions, but you may find it useful to browse through drugstore.com's FSA store for ideas.
posted by gatorae at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2006

We have $3k to get rid of by March.... Any ideas for big expenditures?

I am definitely going to stock up on:

1. Pedialyte
2. Pedialyte
3. Pedialyte

Amazing how a sick baby can go through that stuff....
posted by mdiskin at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2006

Not directly related, but one way to work the FSA system is to buy expensive health-related electronics (blood pressure monitor, glucose monitor, etc.) and return them sans receipt for store credit.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:12 AM on December 12, 2006

Seconding the prenatal massage. You deserve it.

Adding in "gripe water" (or Mylicon). That stuff is great but too expensive.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2006

No baby aspirin. NO. The Experts have been telling us never to give aspirin to babies, children, or teenagers for well over a decade. Apparently it can cause a rare but neurologically devastating thing called Reye's Syndrome. Motrin is the stuff to use for pain and fevers in small children. Do not settle for the off label stuff as it tastes nasty.

Otherwise, be sure you read, understand, and follow the IRS rules and your FSA rules before you buy anything.

And I realize this may seem a little off-topic, but if you can nurse, do. It will reduce baby's chances of getting sick, provide bonding time, and quite incidentally give you an excuse to just sit down. Oh yeah, and it might make your kid smarter and protect you from breast cancer. To top it all off it's a lot cheaper than formula.
posted by ilsa at 11:50 AM on December 12, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good answers.

To clarify a couple of items - I checked with my HR and whilst I do have until March to claim back any FSA expenditures, on my plan, the expenditures themselves must occur before Jan 1 2007.

Expialidocious is right - I checked, and vitamins ARE NOT covered under FSA. So that idea is out. And the point made about only claiming for existing dependents is also valid - my claim may be rejected if I purchase and expense baby stuff before baby arrives. *sigh*

A prenatal massage is sounding pretty good right about now :o)
posted by netsirk at 11:54 AM on December 12, 2006

Are massages covered unless you get a specific referral from your doctor? I thought "elective" things like massages, chiro visits, etc, aren't covered unless you get specific permission from your doc.
posted by rsanheim at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2006

The thermometer idea is a good one though, a fancy three second in the ear jobbie (or the forehead one) they run about $50
posted by zeoslap at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2006

My FSA will cover vitamins if they're prescribed. So maybe (if this happens to be the case with yours) you can get your doctor to call in a prescription for some pre-natal vitamins?
posted by pyjammy at 12:18 PM on December 12, 2006

On the other hand, since prenatal vitamins (particularly folic acid supplements) are for a specific medical condition, they may be reimbursable. You will probably need a doctor's note or prescription to submit along with your claim. Check with your plan administrator.

If you buy OTC medicines, there's no point in buying so much of anything that it's likely to expire before you get around to using it.

Any specific medical supplies that you'd like to have for yourself during labor and postpartum should be eligible for this year's money. Also any baby-first-aid thing that's generic enough, like a bulb squirter thing, or a thermometer that works for infants and adults.
posted by expialidocious at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2006

Though using up FSA allotments on eye care is usually a good idea, pregnancy can affect your eyesight temporarily and a good (read: knowledgeable and ethical) optician won't do a "routine" checkup on a pregnant woman.
posted by Dreama at 12:54 PM on December 12, 2006

This first aid kit in the Drugstore.com FSA area looks cool ($170)... I'm a sucker for kits, though.
posted by mdiskin at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2006

Response by poster: oooh - i do like that kit!
posted by netsirk at 7:25 PM on December 12, 2006

Acetaminophen is good for kids. Echoing ilsa above, I must suggest that you do not use aspirin in small babies, because of Reye syndrome, which is a very horrible thing that can happen because of aspirin use in small babies.

You might also stock up on band-aids; kids and the people who care for them are always getting scratched up, and they keep for a long time.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:26 PM on December 12, 2006

I had a friend who bought an emergency disaster kit for her home and office (live near DC and work in DC).

(Does anyone know why we lose FSA funds to begin with? It strikes me as odd. To whom do the funds revert? The Gov?)
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:32 PM on December 12, 2006

The IRS doesn't allow unused FSA money to be refunded (or carried over, except now there's that new grace period) because of something about deferred compensation not being excludable from income tax under section 125. IANAL, nor am I a tax professional, so check out the IRS for a fuller explanation.

Forfeited money may be used to cover the costs of administering the plan. That's about it. So the money goes back to the organization that handles your claims.
posted by expialidocious at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2006

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