Remember TheraFlu and Emergen-C? They will be making a reappearance shortly, along with the flu virus. Before flu season takes full effect, there are several preventative measures you can take early. Add them to your yearly routine to decrease your chances of catching and spreading the virus.
Get a Flu Shot
Visit an on-site flu clinic at work.
Many employers offer an on-site flu clinic. (We had an one come to our office last week.) If your employer offers this, consider signing up for a flu vaccination. It takes less than 5 minutes and is typically covered by insurance. (If not, it is an eligible expense under a Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA) and most Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA).) On the day of your appointment, all you should need is your insurance card.
If you miss out on getting your flu shot taken care of at work, you can also go to a local pharmacy or clinic.
Go to a local pharmacy or clinic.
Pharmacies housed in large retailers like Walgreens, CVS and RiteAid often offer immunizations and they accept most insurance. Your flu shot is likely covered under your insurance, as it is preventive care.
Need to find a clinic offering flu vaccines near you? Use one of the resources below to get started:
Preventing the flu doesn’t stop at getting a flu shot. The CDC offers several recommendations to fight off the dangers of flu season, including good hand washing habits.
Wash your hands.
It’s one of the simplest, but most effective, methods to fight the flu. When you’re in your house, at the office, the grocery store or even restaurants and events, be diligent about hand washing. Especially in public places, take additional precautions by carrying disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer. The flu can spread through surfaces like doorknobs, handles, blankets and writing utensils. Wipe down areas like your desk or shopping carts to minimize contact with the flu.
Get a check-up.
If you start to feel under the weather despite your precautions, your first step should be to get a check-up from a doctor. Notice we didn’t say “at a doctor.” Thanks to telemedicine platforms, you can stay in your home with the convenience of a doctor on a device. This is a convenient option for common ailments. You avoid the struggle of dragging your sick self into the doctor’s office while also avoiding spreading more germs to healthy patients. You can also use the funds in a pre-tax account like an FSA, HSA or HRA to pay.
While your insurance may cover part of the visit, your pre-tax funds can often* be used to cover additional expenses not covered by insurance. This includes copayments, coinsurance, and payments toward your deductible.
Even if it’s not the flu, you could have something else. Regardless of what you have, make sure you…
While your body fights against a cold, flu or other common ailments, it is imperative to replenish your system with sleep and fluids. The funds from your pre-tax accounts can come into play again.
If you need a sleep mask, you can buy one from the FSA Store or HSA Store or even online from CVS or Walgreens. You might also consider humidifiers, nasal spray or vaporizers, in case the common cold makes an appearance during the winter.
Never too early.
It’s never too early to start preparing for flu season. Beyond fighting the flu, there are plenty of items you can buy with your FSA to care for yourself and your family during the fall and winter.
*Not all items may be eligible under your plan. Some items may require a prescription in order to purchase. Check your plan highlights to verify what is eligible under the plan from your employer.