Americans are very good about saving pre-tax dollars to their Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) for eligible medical expenses. It turns out, however, they aren’t very good at spending them.

A recent study shows that workers lose an estimated $3 billion a year in unspent funds. So, as the final months of 2022 peel off the calendar, it means fewer days remain to spend FSA dollars. With the plan’s use-it-or-lose-it structure, every dollar that goes unspent is forfeited back to the worker’s employer at the end of the year, or at the end of an employer-determined grace period.

Health Savings Account (HSA) plan owners have more flexibility with their money—they can roll their money over without the same hard end-of-the-year deadline as those with FSAs—and they can also use their pre-tax dollars to stock up on necessary healthcare products and services.

Before we get into the products you can buy with your FSA or HSA funds, let’s look at the similarities and differences between the accounts.
 
  FSA HSA
Annual contribution limit
  • Up to $2,650 per individual
  • Up to $5,300 per household
  • Up to $3,450 per individual
  • Up to $6,900 per household
Account ownership Owned by employer and lost with a job change, unless eligible for continuation through COBRA Owned by individual and carries over with employment changes
Rollover rules Employer chooses whether:
  • Funds expire at the end of the year
  • Employees get a grace period of up to 2.5 months to use funds
  • Employees can roll over $500 into next year’s FSA
Unused funds roll over every year
Unused money Transferred back to the employer and is gone permanently Rolled over to the next year
 
Stretch your FSA dollars with Walgreens brand products

With higher costs hitting consumers for everything from gas to food these days, extending your pre-tax dollars with value-driven Walgreens brand products is a smart move. There are hundreds of eligible healthcare products available at Walgreens stores, Walgreens.com and on the Walgreens app, with prices on Walgreens-branded products up to 25% less than national brands.

But remember, if you use your benefits card for ineligible expenses, you’re responsible for reimbursing your account. So, if you have questions about whether a product is FSA or HSA eligible, visit the Walgreens FSA Shop, and look for the blue checkmark and red “FSA” designation next to the product name while shopping on Walgreens.com.

Below are some product categories for eligible FSA and HSA spending, ranging from the traditional to the unexpected:

Healthcare staples: It’s always a good idea to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with essentials like over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for cough and cold, allergy relief, and sun care. Fall is also a convenient time to look at the medicine you already have, clear out those past their expiration dates, and replace them with newer products.
 
  • Cough/cold medicine: Estimates are this year’s cold and flu season will be the worst in several years, so prepare yourself with Walgreens brand medications that will help you through coughs, congestion, sore throat and fever. All are formulated with the exact active ingredients as national brands and are Walgreens pharmacist recommended.
  • Allergy Relief: The end of the year may mean a respite from common outdoor allergens like pollen, but colder weather drives people indoors with less fresh air, where they’re more susceptible to allergens like mold, pet dander and dust mites. To treat the most frequent allergy symptoms try Walgreens Wal-Zyr Tablets as an antihistamine alternative to Zyrtec, Walgreens Wal-Phed PE tablets as a decongestant alternative to Sudafed PE and Walgreens Dye-Free Wal-Dryl tablets as an antihistamine alternative to Benadryl. For those who need additional relief from congestion, sneezing and itchy eyes, Walgreens Allergy Nasal Spray is recommended as an alternative to Flonase. For children, Walgreens Dye-Free Wal-Zyr Liquid provides 24-hour relief of allergy symptoms.
  • Sun care: It may be closer to winter than summer, but that shouldn’t mean you stop protecting your skin when you step outside. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are potent year-round, so stock up on Walgreens sun care products like Walgreens Sunscreen 30 Sport Lotion, which is a good all-season choice to protect against UV radiation—especially for those who are active outdoors.
Don’t forget first aid: A first aid “go kit” is a must-have for any household. Use your pre-tax dollars to build one out with bandages, pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, a digital thermometer, an antihistamine, Walgreens Triple Antibiotic Ointment to prevent infections on minor scrapes and cuts, hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel for irritated skin, and even a pulse oximeter to test blood oxygen levels.

Fight COVID with at-home tests: COVID-19 tests are still an important part of your defense against the virus’ ever-changing variants. Walgreens carries a variety of brands of at-home rapid antigen tests, and health insurance plans are now required to cover the cost of up to eight per month. FSA and HSA dollars can cover expenses if you go over the covered amount, or if you have a deductible to meet.

Now hear this!: Hearing aids, recently approved for over-the-counter sale by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, will be available in Walgreens stores nationwide beginning Oct. 17. And better yet, they could be an eligible FSA/HSA expense. Walgreens is the exclusive drug channel for Lexie Lumen hearing aids, so now millions of Americans with mild-to-moderate hearing loss can purchase hearing aids, without a prescription, and pay for them with pre-tax dollars.
 
FSA eligible surprises: Core health and wellness items are perfect for FSA spending, but did you know there are a number of unexpected—but still important—healthcare items you can purchase with your FSA and HSA dollars?
  Home medical equipment: Even larger-ticket items like wheelchairs and walkers critical to in-home health are eligible for pre-tax dollars spending, and are available at Walgreens.