News & Events The CARES Act & Feminine Hygiene: Why does it matter?
The CARES Act & Feminine Hygiene: Why does it matter?
One of the provisions in the CARES Act, passed on March 27, 2020, is the expansion of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover feminine hygiene products. This includes items like pads, liners, and tampons; as well as, alternative and sustainable options like menstrual cups, sponges, and period underwear.
As women know, feminine hygiene products are expensive. In the United States, women spend about $2,000 in their lifetime on tampons alone.footnote1 However, being able to afford period products can influence a woman’s comfort during her period which has a direct effect on her ability to work, go to school, and on her ability to maintain her overall health by preventing things like bacterial infections.footnote1 A Reuters study found that from July 2017 – March 2018, 64% of participants had been unable to afford period products at some point in the past year and instead had to use toilet paper or rags.footnote2
Additionally, there are many women who are looking to try new products that may offer them more comfort during their periods or are more sustainable and will offer them long term savings. The upfront cost of alternative products, for example $10 – $44 for 1 pair of period underwearfootnote3 or $20 – $40 for 1 menstrual cupfootnote4, may limit access for many women. Many of these products can result in significant savings for women over several years. Further, many of these products are also better for the environment by keeping plastics and chemicals from pads and tampons out of landfills.
The changes in legislation brought about by the CARES Act create broader access to critical products by allowing women to purchase them with pretax dollars in an HSA or FSA. PayFlex accountholders with debit cards can use their card to purchase period products from drugstores like CVS or they can purchase the items and submit the receipt for reimbursement.
Employers may offer an FSA and an HSA for you to enroll in. Or you can open an HSA on your own — like the PayFlex Individual HSA. Keep in mind, you must meet certain eligibility requirements to open an HSA. To see if an HSA is right for you, head over here.