Medically reviewed on January 3, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Finding ways to affordably pay for your health and wellness expenses can be empowering. If you’re one of many people aiming to do so, you may have investigated opening an FSA.
So, what is an FSA—and what can FSA be used for?
A flexible spending account (FSA) is a type of tax-sheltered savings account you can open if you have an employer-sponsored health insurance plan . Your FSA can be used to pay for various qualified medical expenses that aren’t covered by your health plan. Most notably, you don’t have to pay taxes on the money you deposit or withdraw from an FSA. However, remember that this is different from a health savings account (HSA) and is used for different purposes.
Below, we’ll explain how FSAs work in greater detail and review the types of qualified medical expenses you can pay for using an FSA.
How do FSA accounts work?
With an FSA, you decide how much money you want to contribute at the start of each year. This amount is divided by twelve and taken out of your monthly paychecks automatically. Once your FSA is set up, it contains your total annual contribution amount right from the start.
You can use this money to pay for an eligible healthcare expense or medical necessity throughout the year by:
- Keeping your medical care receipts to get FSA reimbursement
- Paying for out-of-pocket medical care or dental expenses using an FSA debit card
FSA contributions don’t roll over year-to-year unless your plan specifies otherwise. In turn, FSA money is “use it or lose it.”
For this reason, many FSA account holders look for creative ways to use up their FSA money toward the end of the year. (Related: Can you have an HSA and FSA at the same time?)
What are the different types of FSAs?
There are three different types of FSAs. Each type is designated for specific purposes.
A healthcare FSA can be used for any medical expenses you incur that aren’t covered by your health insurance plan, while limited-purpose FSAs can only cover dental and vision care .
Meanwhile, the dependent care FSA can help you pay for the cost of caring for your eligible dependent, whether that’s a young child with a disability or an aging parent .
What type of expenses can FSAs cover?
Now that you understand the different types of FSAs let's take a closer look at the eligible expenses for healthcare FSA :
- Deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance – You can swipe your FSA debit card to pay for healthcare appointment costs you incur that aren’t covered by your health plan. Just keep in mind, you can’t use your FSA to pay your monthly insurance premiums .
- Telehealth services – Since the CARES Act passed in 2020, you can now use FSA funds to pay for telehealth services .
- Lab tests – Lab tests and laboratory fees are both included in the list of FSA eligible expenses .
- Dental care – Your FSA can also cover non-cosmetic dental expenses, such as dental cleanings, root canals, X-rays, artificial teeth, and more .
- Vision care – This is another eligible expense that allows you to use your FSA to pay for your annual eye exam, eyeglasses, contact lenses, Lasik eye surgery, and other vision care costs .
- Hospital stays – If you must go to the hospital, you can use your FSA funds to pay for healthcare expenses like ambulance rides, hospital lodging, and meals .
- Prescription medications – From sleeping pills to blood pressure medication, you can use your FSA to buy any medications you’re prescribed .
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications – You can purchase some OTC medications with your FSA too. Just keep in mind that you may have to get a note from your healthcare provider to verify that you need the medication to qualify for reimbursement .
- COVID-19 expenses – COVID-19 tests and personal protection equipment, like face masks and hand sanitizers, can be covered using your FSA .
- Medical equipment – If you need to purchase crutches, a wheelchair, hearing aids, bandages, or other types of medical equipment, you can use your FSA to do so .
- Psychological treatment – If you need to see a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, your appointment expenses can be covered by your FSA .
- Family planning services – Your FSA can help you pay for family planning products and services, such as condoms, birth control, abortions, vasectomies, sterilization, fertility treatments, and pregnancy tests .
- Service animal expenses – If you’re disabled and rely on a guide dog or another service animal, you can pay for your animal, as well as its training, food, grooming, and vet care, with your FSA .
- Home and vehicle modifications – You can use your FSA to pay for medical home modifications, such as exit ramps, support bars, and porch lifts. Vehicle modifications are also covered if you have a disability that affects your driving abilities .
Other qualifying expenses
Some other lesser-known approved expenses for a medical FSA include :
- Braille books and magazines
- Breast pumping supplies
- Drug addiction treatment programs
- Medical-related legal fees
- Medical conferences
- Special education
- Stop-smoking programs
- Weight-loss programs
As you can see, the potential uses for FSA funds are vast. You can find a complete list of qualified and nonqualified expenses in your FSA plan.
Use your FSA to pay for at-home lab tests and telehealth services from Everlywell today
No matter what you choose to use your FSA for, having this type of account can offer many benefits. Most notably, you’ll get to save money by using tax-free funds.
If you want to monitor your health from home, you can use your FSA to pay for at-home lab tests and telehealth appointments from Everlywell. Find out more about our convenient digital health offerings today.
Are Everlywell tests covered by FSA/HSA?
How to start an HSA account: what you need to know
Can you have an HSA and FSA at the same time?
- HealthCare.gov. Health care options, using a flexible spending account FSA. HealthCare.gov. Published 2019. URL. Accessed December 12, 2022.
- The Difference Between A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) And A Health Savings Account (HSA). Office of Human Resources. Published November 7, 2020. URL. Accessed December 12, 2022.
- Publication 502 (2018), Medical and Dental Expenses | Internal Revenue Service. Irs.gov. Published 2018. URL. Accessed December 12, 2022.