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Posted August 15, 2019

Budgeting for Back-to-School with Your HSA, HRA or FSA


The back-to-school season is upon us, and as any parent or guardian knows, it can be an expensive time! Between stocking up on school supplies, signing up for extracurricular activities and buying new clothes for the kid who grew two sizes over the summer, many parents feel stretched thin.

The great news is that your consumer-directed health (CDH) account can help ease the transition from summer to school. CDH accounts include health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)—and we’re here to share five common back-to-school expenses you can pay for using those funds.

  1. Vaccinations. Students often need updated immunizations before school starts, and these are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA, HSA or HRA. Your CDH account can also be used for your annual flu shot.
  2. School and sports physical exams. The funds you’ve saved into your FSA, HSA or HRA can be used to cover the check-ups that are required for back to school or sports.
  3. Eye exams and corrective eyewear. Speaking of physicals, your CDH account can cover the cost of eye exams and corrective eyewear, including prescription glasses and contacts. No need to strain those eyes!
  4. Certain medical and orthopedic supplies. Even little items like bandages, children’s pain relievers, first-aid kits, lice treatments, thermometers and hand sanitizer can be covered by an HSA, HRA or FSA. Likewise, certain orthopedic supplies for student athletes are eligible for reimbursement (think ankle, knee and back braces/wraps, athletic tape and arch supports).
  5. Acne treatments. Eight-five percent of people ages 12 to 24 experience at least mild acne, and treatments including OTC meds, topical prescriptions, antibiotics or other medicines qualify as an eligible expense for CDH account holders.


Families and students have diverse needs. But whether your littles (or not-so-littles, depending on how fast they’re growing!) need physicals, new glasses or acne treatments, the CDH you’ve been investing in can step up to help you make ends meet this year. And if you’re not yet investing into a CDH, this article clears up a lot of confusion about FSAs and HSAs—and it just might be the tool you need to make the next right decision for your financial health.


For more insights about how to help Americans pay for healthcare, download WEX’s consumer healthcare report here and participate in our first annual HSA Awareness Day on Oct. 15, 2019.


WEX Health

WEX Health