Flu season is upon us. The good news for people with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) is that the flu shot is a qualified medical expense. That means they can save money on the vaccine by using their account funds to pay for it.
The cost for the shot varies from location to location, and depending on where you get the vaccine, it can be a significant amount. In 2016, the price of flu shots ranges from as low as $14.99 to as high as $39.99. Many health care plans cover at least part of the price of the vaccination which reduces the cost passed on to the individual. In addition, some employers offer free vaccines to their associates and their families.
For those who have to cover some of the expense, the FSA and HSA is a valuable resource because they can use those pre-taxable set aside funds instead of paying out of pocket. Plus, at places such as pharmacies and doctor’s offices, people can use their account-linked benefits debit card.
When should you get vaccinated?
Now is the time to get your flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC states, “Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and March.” It takes about two weeks for a person’s immune system to respond to the vaccine and start protecting against the virus(es).
Another key CDC recommendation is that people receive only the injectable flu shot this season due to the concern over the flu mist’s effectiveness.
Who should get a vaccination?
Every person 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every season, according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The following people are considered high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Children younger than 5, especially those younger than 2 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaskan natives
People with the following medical conditions are also deemed high risk:
- Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions (see full list)
- Chronic lung disease
- Heart disease
- Blood disorders
- Kidney disorders
- Liver disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Weakened immune systems due to disease or medication
- People younger than 19 years old who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- People with extreme obesity
Consider getting your flu shot this season. It may cost little to nothing to get your entire family vaccinated and help keep them healthy, especially if you have an FSA or HSA. Click here to find a vaccine provider.