How do medical transportation expenses work?

You may have heard about these before, but what exactly are medical transportation expenses? Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers a huge range of medical products and services. FSAs can cover these expenses for both you and loved ones. But, these accounts can also help ease the burden on anyone who may have to travel long distances for medical care, through medical transportation reimbursement.

Let's examine what that involves...

2016 IRS Standard Mileage Rates for Medical Travel

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its Standard Mileage Rates, which are the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. For FSA account holders, this mileage rate for medical expenses will qualify as long as the transportation is primarily for and essential to medical care. So, what types of costs are covered by the FSA? Medical transportation expenses can include car and rental car expenses, bus, taxi, train, plane and ferry fares, as well as ambulance services, parking fees and bridge/highway tolls.

In 2015, the Standard Mileage Rate for Medical Travel was 23 cents, but this dropped for 2016. As of January 1, 2016, the Standard Mileage Rate for Medical Travel will be 19 cents per mile. Mileage rates are adjusted for inflation each year.

Do medical transportation expenses include lodging?

While mileage rate reimbursement can significantly reduce the cost of transportation for medical care, the cost of lodging is another major consideration that may be eligible under a set of IRS conditions. First, any lodging expenses must be for a person receiving medical care at a hospital or a similar institution. Next, these expenses are also eligible for a person receiving medical care and an accompanying individual at a non-hospital. This is up to $50 per night, per individual, if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or travel and lodging is not lavish or extravagant. If springing for a hotel room is a must when traveling for medical attention, it's advisable to ask your physician for a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN). The LMN will help the FSA reimbursement process and ensure that the lodging expenses were necessary to seek out medical attention.

If you recently had to travel long distances or anticipate that you will be forced to in the future to seek out medical care, speak with your FSA administrator to ensure that you are reimbursed for everything you're entitled to! And be sure to visit often throughout 2016 for the latest on FSAs, and shop for FSA eligible products!

Have more questions about your FSA? Browse our FSA Learning Center!

Wondering what expenses are covered? View our comprehensive FSA Eligibility List for details about covered products or medical services.

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