'Hotel Influenza' Will Pay You $3500 to Come Get the Flu

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iStock

Miami Beach. The Caribbean. Cabo. All of these vacation spots may sound appealing, but they can cost thousands. Why not plan a getaway where your hotel not only pays your travel expenses but also gives you a little extra just for coming?

Thanks to St. Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development, now you can. The only catch? You’ll be purposely exposed to influenza. And most sightseeing is out, since you’ll be quarantined.

As Forbes reports, the university just announced that it has converted part of its on-campus hotel into a research hub for flu. “Guests” of “Hotel Influenza” will be paid volunteers in a human challenge study that aims to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines. Rather than follow subjects in the real world who may or may not contract the virus, the center will make sure of it, exposing occupants to germs and then evaluating their response. Researchers are offering $3500 to cover each volunteer's travel expenses, leaving the rest as compensation for marinating in their own snot.

That exposure doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’ll experience flu symptoms. If a guest happens to have been treated with a working vaccine rather than a placebo, they might not get sick, and can pass away the time in the center’s modest quarters, which include catered meals and a common room with a television. If they do fall ill, 24-hour medical care will keep their discomfort to a minimum. Owing to the risk of transmission, they won’t be allowed to leave until they stop shedding the virus. The typical duration of stay is about 10 days.

The center is hoping this kind of targeted research will help improve seasonal flu vaccines with a long-term goal of developing a universal vaccination that can cover multiple strains of flu. Organizers expect a pilot study will be up and running within the next six months.

There will only be 24 slots available, so be sure to book early.

[h/t Forbes]

12 Creative Ways to Spend Your FSA Money Before the Deadline

stockfour/iStock via Getty Images
stockfour/iStock via Getty Images

If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), chances are, time is running out for you to use that cash. Depending on your employer’s rules, if you don’t spend your FSA money by the end of the grace period, you potentially lose some of it. Lost cash is never a good thing.

For those unfamiliar, an FSA is an employer-sponsored spending account. You deposit pre-tax dollars into the account, and you can spend that money on a number of health care expenses. It’s kind of like a Health Savings Account (HSA), but with a few big differences—namely, your HSA funds roll over from year to year, so there’s no deadline to spend it all. With an FSA, though, most of your funds expire at the end of the year. Bummer.

The good news is: The law allows employers to roll $500 over into the new year and also offer a grace period of up to two and a half months to use that cash (March 15). Depending on your employer, you might not even have that long, though. The deadline is fast approaching for many account holders, so if you have to use your FSA money soon, here are a handful of creative ways to spend it.

1. Buy some new shades.

Head to the optometrist, get an eye prescription, then use your FSA funds to buy some new specs or shades. Contact lenses and solution are also covered.

You can also buy reading glasses with your FSA money, and you don’t even need a prescription.

2. Try acupuncture.

Scientists are divided on the efficacy of acupuncture, but some studies show it’s useful for treating chronic pain, arthritis, and even depression. If you’ve been curious about the treatment, now's a good time to try it: Your FSA money will cover acupuncture sessions in some cases. You can even buy an acupressure mat without a prescription.

If you’d rather go to a chiropractor, your FSA funds cover those visits, too.

3. Stock up on staples.

If you’re running low on standard over-the-counter meds, good news: Most of them are FSA-eligible. This includes headache medicine, pain relievers, antacids, heartburn meds, and anything else your heart (or other parts of your body) desires.

There’s one big caveat, though: Most of these require a prescription in order to be eligible, so you may have to make an appointment with your doctor first. The FSA store tells you which over-the-counter items require a prescription.

4. Treat your feet.

Give your feet a break with a pair of massaging gel shoe inserts. They’re FSA-eligible, along with a few other foot care products, including arch braces, toe cushions, and callus trimmers.

In some cases, foot massagers or circulators may be covered, too. For example, here’s one that’s available via the FSA store, no prescription necessary.

5. Get clear skin.

Yep—acne treatments, toner, and other skin care products are all eligible for FSA spending. Again, most of these require a prescription for reimbursement, but don’t let that deter you. Your doctor is familiar with the rules and you shouldn’t have trouble getting a prescription. And, as WageWorks points out, your prescription also lasts for a year. Check the rules of your FSA plan to see if you need a separate prescription for each item, or if you can include multiple products or drug categories on a single prescription.

While we’re on the topic of faces, lip balm is another great way to spend your FSA funds—and you don’t need a prescription for that. There’s also no prescription necessary for this vibrating face massager.

6. Fill your medicine cabinet.

If your medicine cabinet is getting bare, or you don’t have one to begin with, stock it with a handful of FSA-eligible items. Here are some items that don’t require a prescription:

You can also stock up on first aid kits. You don’t need a prescription to buy those, and many of them come with pain relievers and other medicine.

7. Make sure you’re covered in the bedroom.

Condoms are FSA-eligible, and so are pregnancy tests, monitors, and fertility kits. Female contraceptives are also covered when you have a prescription.

8. Prepare for your upcoming vacation.

If you have a vacation planned this year, use your FSA money to stock up on trip essentials. For example:

9. Get a better night’s sleep.

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep aids are eligible, though you’ll need a prescription. If you want to try a sleep mask, many of them are eligible without a prescription. For example, there’s this relaxing sleep mask and this thermal eye mask.

For those nights you’re sleeping off a cold or flu, a vaporizer can make a big difference, and those are eligible, too (no prescription required). Bed warmers like this one are often covered, too.

Your FSA funds likely cover more than you realize, so if you have to use them up by the deadline, get creative. This list should help you get started, and many drugstores will tell you which items are FSA-eligible when you shop online.

10. Go to the dentist.

While basics like toothpaste and cosmetic procedures like whitening treatments aren’t FSA eligible, most of the expenses you incur at your dentist’s office are. That includes co-pays and deductibles as well as fees for cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and even the cost of braces. There are also some products you can buy over-the-counter without ever visiting the dentist. Some mouthguards that prevent you from grinding your teeth at night are eligible, as are cleaning solutions for retainers and dentures.

11. Try some new gadgets.

If you still have some extra cash to burn, it’s a great time to try some expensive high-tech devices that you’ve been curious about but might not otherwise want to splurge on. The list includes light therapy treatments for acne, vibrating nausea relief bands, electrical stimulation devices for chronic pain, cloud-connected stethoscopes, and smart thermometers.

12. Head to Amazon.

There are plenty of FSA-eligible items available on Amazon, including items for foot health, cold and allergy medication, eye care, and first-aid kits. Find out more details on how to spend your FSA money on Amazon here.

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Lost Your Wedding Ring? A Global Network of Metal Detectorists Can Help You Find It

 Kseniia Ilinykh, Unsplash
Kseniia Ilinykh, Unsplash

On Friday, October 9, actor Jon Cryer found himself in a scenario many married people dread: He dropped his wedding band outside at night and couldn't find it. Instead of giving up, the Two and a Half Men star reached out to professional jewelry hunter Chris Turner. The pair met up at the spot where Cryer lost the ring that Sunday, and within minutes, Turner had located the missing item using nothing but a metal detector.

"He leans down and grips a wad of grass from the ground. As he pulls a few stray blades from the clump he asks: 'Is this what your ring looks like?'" Cryer recalled in a Twitter thread, "I stammer out 'Are you serious?!?'"

As CTV News reports, Turner belongs to a group of metal detectorists known as The Ring Finders. He developed an interest in hunting for lost jewelry as a teenager, when a neighbor asked for his help finding a wedding ring that had been missing for a decade. Using his new metal detector, he was able to find it for her. In the 50 years since, Turner has used his skills to recover hundreds of items.

Turner's contributions to metal detecting aren't limited to his personal missions. Twenty-five years ago, he founded The Ring Finders, a network of metal detectorists spanning 22 countries. If you've misplaced your ring or other metal valuable, you can use the organization's online directory to locate a Ring Finder near you. For a fee—often it's pay-what-you-can, but each member is different—The Ring Finder specialist will meet you with a metal detector in hand to search for your item.

Cryer is just the latest client the group has helped. To date, The Ring Finders have completed more than 7300 successful recoveries. Most customers are ordinary people turning to the service as a last resort. "People like you are what makes the world go round. I was a complete wreck because I thought I had next to no chance of finding my beloved ring," one client wrote in an online testimonial. "From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU SO MUCH for saving the day."

[h/t CTV News]