Treadmill: FSA Eligibility

Treadmill: eligible with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
A treadmill is eligible for reimbursement with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) and health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). A treadmill is not eligible for reimbursement with a limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

What is a treadmill?

Treadmills are among the most popular pieces of exercise equipment on the market today, as they are nearly ubiquitous in fitness centers all over the U.S. and a preferred option for at-home exercise equipment. The devices combine a moving platform with controls to alter speed, incline and other factors to provide a cardiovascular workout by running in one place. While treadmills were used in medical settings to perform stress tests as early as the 1950s, the first home exercise treadmill was developed in the late 1970s by Bill Staub and Dr. Kenneth Cooper from Aerobics, Inc. and has since become a machine synonymous with physical fitness (LIVESTRONG).

What is the process for treadmill FSA/HSA/HRA reimbursement?

The IRS states that any expense eligible for reimbursement through an FSA, HSA or HRA must relate to "the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation or treatment of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body." As such, exercise equipment like treadmills can certainly fall under this definition, but a few major factors need to be taken into account.

For a treadmill to be eligible for reimbursement, it must be used to treat or prevent a specific disease, including hypertension or obesity. To ensure that the expense will be reimbursed by the IRS, it's recommended that account holders obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) that can be submitted to a benefits administrator, as well as providing additional documentation for tax purposes.

If a doctor recommends a treadmill as a means of treating or preventing a medical condition, the LMN he/she provides must outline how the treadmill will be used to alleviate the issue and how long the treatment will last. If the treatment plan exceeds the current plan year, another LMN will have to be provided to the benefits administrator to cover the duration of the treatment.