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Common Health Care Expenses: The Cost of Pink Eye

Kate Dore · May 21, 2020 · 3 min read


Pink eye can be an uncomfortable problem to deal with, especially when the infection spreads to both eyes. Fortunately, pink eye is common and it may be easy to treat the symptoms. Here are some of the basics to know—including how much it costs to treat and how to save money on these expenses.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, a.k.a. conjunctivitis, is a common eye infection. It happens when the clear membrane lining your eyelids and white part of your eyeballs become inflamed. The small blood vessels may become infected, making the white part of your eyes look red or pink. You may get pink eye from a bacterial or viral infection or an allergic reaction. Although pink eye may not impact your vision, it can be contagious, so early diagnosis and treatment are critical.

What is the treatment for pink eye?

It may be possible to get a diagnosis simply by sharing the symptoms with your doctor. You won’t usually need an in-person office visit. Typically, the purpose of the treatment is to ease your symptoms.

Pink eye is usually a viral infection, which means antibiotics won’t clear it. The one exception may be if pink eye is caused by the herpes simplex virus. For a normal infection, though, you may notice the infection spreads from one eye to the other within a few days. Unfortunately, you may have to wait two to three weeks for the infection to run its course. Over time, your pink eye symptoms will get better.

Your doctor may suggest some treatments to ease the symptoms in the meantime. These may include artificial tears, using a wet cloth to clean your eyelids, or trying a cold or hot compress throughout the day.

If the infection is caused by an allergic reaction, your doctor may prescribe eye drops for allergies. They may also suggest antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, or anti-inflammatory eye drops. You may avoid future flareups by staying away from known allergens.

How much does pink eye treatment cost?

The cost of treating pink eye may vary based on what your doctor prescribes. You may save money by skipping an in-person doctor’s appointment. But if you have to visit in person, you may owe a copayment or out-of-pocket expenses, depending on your health insurance plan.

You may purchase artificial tears eye drops over the counter for less than $10. Your doctor may also recommend a hot or cold compress for $10-$20. You can use your health savings account (HSA) to pay for either type of compress. Antihistamines and decongestants may cost up to $30, depending on the quantity you buy. Luckily, both products are also HSA-eligible.

Looking for more HSA eligible products? Check out our What's Eligible page to see what items are considered a qualified medical expense.

Be proactive with pink eye

While it may be tempting to ignore, getting a pink eye diagnosis may be the first step to feeling better. Plus, it may motivate you to steer clear others while you are still contagious. It’s never fun to spend money on over-the-counter remedies for any type of illness. But using pre-tax, health savings account money may make it less of a financial burden.

Kate Dore

Kate Dore

Kate Dore is a Nashville-based freelance personal finance writer and Candidate for Certified Financial Planner™ Certification. She teaches financial literacy with Junior Achievement and serves as Director of Public Relations for the Financial Planning Association of Middle Tennessee. Her work has been published in Business Insider, Financial Planning Magazine, and Simple Money Magazine.

piggy bank on pink background


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A Health Savings Account (HSA) and Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) provide up to 30% savings on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. That’s good news. Except you can’t contribute to an HSA and Healthcare FSA at the same time. So what if your employer offers both benefits? How do you choose which account type is best for you? Let’s explore the advantages of each to help you decide which wins in HSA vs FSA.

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Health Savings Accounts

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Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.



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