How to Use your HSA Fund This Summer

Summer is in mid-swing, which means spending more time outdoors and participating in more activities under the sun. Whether you’re enjoying your summer vacation or catching some vitamin D on the weekends, staying on top of seasonal health care is a must.

If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you might be surprised that many common summertime purchases are HSA-eligible expenses.

Photo by Chris Benson

Photo by Chris Benson

What is a Health Savings Account?

An HSA is a dedicated savings account specifically for health-related expenses. Whether for over-the-counter drugstore goods, prescription medication or doctor-recommended health supplies, your HSA funds can be used to cover seasonal health items.

You can open an HSA through your health insurance provider or through a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts which allows you to save pre-tax dollars into the account for future health needs. The money that grows in the account also isn’t taxed and withdrawals for HSA-eligible expenses are tax-free as well.

HSAs are a helpful tool when it comes to saving money for health expenses. It’s easy, however, to forget that you can buy important summer items using this account to stay safe in the sun. 

7 HSA Purchases to Keep Your Summer Going

Although you can buy these items year-round using your HSA, tapping into your health savings account this summer can help you maximize the use of your HSA.

1. Sunscreen

Among the most important summer care items to have in your beach bag is sunscreen. Your HSA covers over-the-counter sunscreen of all types, including sunscreen or sunblock that’s designed specifically for your face, kids or that has insect repellent mixed into the sunscreen formula. Both physical and chemical sunscreens are eligible.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreens that are water-resistant and offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) with at least 30 SPF. Before heading out to your next summer outing, make sure you’re prepared with this HSA purchase.  

2. First aid

Did your latest hiking adventure leave you with a few cuts and scrapes? Your health savings account has you covered. Whether you choose to buy a pre-assembled first aid kit or prefer to put together first aid supplies for a customized kit, you can use your HSA savings.

3. Lip balm

When protecting your skin from harsh sun rays, remember to protect your lips, too. The AAD also recommends you use lip balm with 30 SPF or greater, and with broad-spectrum protection. To be an HSA-eligible expense without a doctor’s note, the lip balm you buy must have a minimum 15 SPF and include broad-spectrum protection. 

4. Aloe Vera

As you’re soaking up the sun, you might’ve forgotten to reapply your sunscreen. A helpful HSA-eligible purchase is aloe vera. In order to use your HSA, however, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor for aloe vera.

This natural, moisturizing ingredient helps soothe painful sunburns. If you don’t have a live aloe vera plant handy in your garden, you can purchase aloe vera from your local drugstore. It comes in many forms such as gel, creams and ointment.

5. Prescription sunglasses

You probably already know that a health savings account covers prescription eyeglasses. What you might not realize is that prescription sunglasses are also an HSA-eligible expense, as long as your doctor provides a prescription.

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s harsh rays reflecting off of the water — whether you’re at the beach or lounging poolside — is important for preventative eye care.

6. Athletic tape and wraps

If you have a few mishaps while playing summer sports this season, you can rely on your HSA to help cover the cost of athletic tape and wraps. Athletic bandages, braces, and cooling and heating wraps don’t need a prescription or doctor’s note to be an eligible HSA purchase.

7. Fitness tracking device

With so many fitness trackers on the market, like Fitbit and Garmin, you have plenty of options to help you track and measure your fitness goals. Before buying a tracker and using your HSA funds, you’ll need a doctor’s letter ready that states the fitness tracker is a medical necessity for your health.

If you have that letter handy and have funds available in your HSA, you can purchase a fitness tracking device to help track metrics, like your heart rate and exercise levels.

Tips when making HSA purchases

The list above is just a few of the many health purchases you can make through your HSA. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before making your next HSA purchase:

  • Review HSA-eligible expenses. Before spending money on health goods this summer, make sure you check your HSA’s list of eligible items. You don’t want to accidentally go out of your budget, because a purchase was deemed ineligible under your HSA.

  • You have payment options at checkout. You can access funds for HSA-eligible expenses using your debit card, HSA checkbook, or you can even pay for your purchase out-of-pocket and reimburse yourself later by submitting a claim.

  • Save your purchase receipts. Keeping good records of your purchase receipts is helpful in the event you’re audited. You can file away the physical receipt or scan it so you have a digital copy if you ever need to reference it.

If you already have an HSA there are a number of ways to put your existing health savings to good use this season. Above all, stay safe and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Jennifer Calonia