That's Eligible?! Fitness Expenses and Your Flexible Spending Account

When you're looking for a little inspiration to reactivate your gym membership, a bit of self-investment can go a long way. Whether it's a new lineup of workout gear, a fitness tracker or a new pair of running shoes, you don't want to waste your hard-earned money -- which might just be the boost you need to stay on top of your fitness goals and improve your general health.

Exercise can help prevent many health issues later in life, so why aren't fitness products FSA-eligible? The reality is that under IRS regulations, items used to maintain general good health and not to treat a specific medical condition are not considered eligible medical expenses. As of right now, these fitness expenses are NOT eligible for reimbursement through a flexible spending account. But, let's cut through the confusion about a few of the most asked about fitness products and services, and see what exactly is eligible to make it onto your FSA shopping list.

1. Fitness trackers

We hear about trackers -- like Fitbit or even the Apple Watch -- all the time. While digital fitness trackers have been introduced to company wellness programs as an incentive for employees to get in better shape, they are considered for general good health use by the IRS and not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. Therefore, they remain ineligible with an FSA.

However, we know that tracking vitals is important for some to keep on top of their wellness. Devices that monitor, screen, or test for the presence of a disease or medical condition are FSA-eligible. That's why we carry a wide range of more targeted, hi-tech, 100% FSA-eligible health tracking products like blood pressure monitors.

2. Footwear

Under the IRS guidelines, even the most advanced cross-training shoes don't qualify as FSA-eligible. But that doesn't mean you can't treat your feet with your FSA dollars. Your FSA funds will cover orthotics, arthritis pain insoles and other orthotic shoe inserts. This type of eligible expense can reduce the impact of exercise on your feet and lower body and help you avoid injuries from poorly-fitting shoes.

3. Gym memberships

You may be questioning, is an FSA worth it if I can’t apply my dollars toward maintaining my health through a fitness subscription? As much as we want to use our FSA funds to cover your monthly gym membership, weight loss program, or occasional spin classes, they are not considered an eligible expense. However, if your doctor or other medical practitioner recommends exercise at a gym or a weight-loss program to treat a specific medical condition, these may be FSA-eligible with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN).

If you have a medical condition, such as obesity, and a doctor requires you to work out or join a regimented weight loss program, they can create an LMN for your benefits administrator that could allow you to cover the healthcare expense with your FSA dollars. Be sure to check with your benefits administrator and check out this post for more about these exceptions and the LMN process.

If you're looking to invest in home exercise equipment to meet fitness goals and take better care of your general health, these fitness expenses are currently not FSA-eligible and follow the same guidelines as gym memberships. To use your flexible spending account for such expense, you'll need to prove that you have a medical condition which requires you to buy specific workout equipment for your home as a form of treatment, using an LMN provided by your medical practitioner.

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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