Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) exist for you to save money for out-of-pocket healthcare costs, which more often than not means copayments for doctor's office visits or insurance deductibles.
While it's great to use yourfor those reasons, you might be missing out on some great deals your FSA can provide for you -- whether you're in need of pain relief or pregnancy tests.
Here are some unexpected health items you can buy with your FSA.
First, a quick disclaimer: The government provides an A-to-Z eligibility list, but if you're ever unsure about what you can or can't purchase with your FSA, be sure to check with the terms of your account first.
1. Skin care
Some skin care products, such as toner or spot treatment, require a prescription from your doctor to be eligible. Treatments for conditions such as eczema and rosacea also require a prescription, and anything with mainly cosmetic purposes -- such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion -- does not qualify.
2. Condoms, pregnancy tests and fertility kits
Let your FSA pay for your sexual health and family planning needs. Condoms, pregnancy tests, fertility kits and pregnancy monitors are all FSA-eligible purchases. With a prescription, you can also purchase female contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches and IUDs with FSA money.
3. Glasses and sunglasses
For those who weren't born with perfect vision, an FSA covers prescription glasses and sunglasses, even high-end brands like Ray-Ban and Versace. Just make sure to visit your optometrist for an updated prescription before purchasing a pair (you can use your FSA to cover the optometry exam, too).
Wear contact lenses instead? You can also pay for those with your FSA money.
4. Staple medications
Over-the-counter medications do require a prescription to be FSA-eligible, but a simple visit to your doctor could allow you to stock up on pain relievers, allergy medicine, heartburn relief, antacids and other medicine cabinet staples. Check the FSA Store's list of eligible OTC medications.
5. Heating and cooling pads
Struggle with lower back pain or nagging injuries? Heating and cooling pads can help, and you can purchase them with FSA funds. Many brands and types are available on the FSA Store online, but you can also just pick one up from your local drugstore.
6. First-aid kit
Pretty much any first-aid kit is FSA-eligible, and this is one way to get around the prescription required for over-the-counter pain medications: Many first aid kits include travel-sized bottles of pain relievers, and you don't need a prescription to buy a first-aid kit.
Sunscreen is a surprisingly expensive essential -- most cost at least $10 and go up in price significantly from there, depending on the brand you choose. Use your hard-earned FSA dollars to pay for it. SPF lip balm and mineral sunscreen are also covered.
9. Blood-pressure monitor
10. Other home medical devices
Blood pressure monitors aren't the only at-home medical devices you can purchase with your FSA. You can also buy oximeters, stethoscopes, home medical tests, glucose tests and monitors, CPAP accessories, medical alert devices, emergency equipment such as a defibrillator, inhalers and respiratory masks.
11. Breast pump
For new moms, breast pumps and breast pump accessories are covered under an FSA. This includes cleaning wipes, disposable nursing pads, reusable baby bottles, tote bags and breast milk coolers.
12. Shoe inserts and foot care
You can buy shoe inserts, as well as toe cushions and arch braces, with your FSA. Wart removers and other foot grooming treatments, such as callus trimmers, are also qualified FSA expenses. You may even be able to purchase a foot massager with your FSA.
13. Sleep aids
Oral sleep aids are only eligible with a prescription from your doctor, but you can purchase sleep masks, vaporizers, bed warmers and other non-prescription sleep aids with your FSA funds.
14. Travel preparation
According to the IRS Publication 502, you can't pay for a vacation with your FSA money -- but you can buy travel essentials with those funds. For example, travel pillows, sunscreen, motion sickness bands and more are all eligible FSA expenses.
Bonus: Alternative medicine
Wanting to try out acupuncture, chiropractic care or another complementary medical treatment? This ultimately depends on your employer, but many businesses allow employees to use their FSA funds for these kinds of health treatments.
If your employer does allow you to use FSA money for this, make sure to check with the clinic or practice you want to visit, too.
Some new tech-driven health clinics like Forward Health also take FSA accounts to pay for membership fees.