You can now use your FSA or HSA funds for over-the-counter medications and feminine care products

Pain relief medicine at a pharmacy. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
John Greim

CNBC Make It is posting a new financial task to tackle each day for a month. These are all meant to be simple, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing. This is day 16 of 30.

If you have a health savings account or flexible spending account, you can now use them for more qualified expenses than in years past. 

Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can use your FSA or HSA funds to buy over-the-counter medications without a prescription, like Tylenol and other pain relievers, heartburn medications, allergy relief and more, for the first time since 2011. You can also use your funds for feminine care products, including tampons, pads, liners, cups, sponges, etc., for the first time.

Today, take a few minutes to take stock of the medical supplies you need, any medical bills you have to pay and how much you have and will contribute to your FSA or HSA this year. These accounts let you use pre-tax dollars on medical costs, which saves you money in the long run. Make a plan for how to get the most out of your contributions.

The changes to eligible expenses are effective retroactively to January 1, 2020. If you purchased OTC medicines or feminine care products this year, contact your benefits department to see if you can get reimbursed now. 

Of course, you can still use your funds for prescriptions, contact lenses and medical bills including co-insurance, co-payments and deductibles. You can use a site like FSA Store or HealthProductsForYou to search for FSA-eligible necessities, and drugstores like CVS typically note when a product is FSA or HSA-eligible. Amazon also has an FSA section.

While you can rollover HSA funds from year to year, you need to use most of your FSA dollars within the calendar year, or you will lose them.

If you have some extra time now, create a "medical expenses" folder to keep your receipts organized (if you receive digital receipts or bills, then keep them in a single folder on your computer desktop). Schedule some time every few months to file a claim with your FSA/HSA to be reimbursed for your medical expenses. This will ensure you're getting the most out of your money.

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