Is bug spray covered by my FSA?

Summer is in full swing and that means the bugs are coming out, too. Mosquito and other bugs will begin to grow and soon your time spent outdoors may result in annoying bug bites. With the threat of Zika and other insect-borne pathogens becoming a concern, bug sprays are a must to safeguard your well-being.

Is bug spray considered FSA eligible?

Bug spray eligibility

According to IRS regulations, bug spray is not eligible for reimbursement through a flexible spending account (FSA). However there is one major caveat. Sunscreen with insect repellent is considered an FSA eligible expense as the primary purpose of the product is sun protection. However, stand-alone insect repellent, as effective as it may be in warding off insect-carrying mosquitoes and other bugs, is not cleared for purchase through an FSA.

The regulation that determines FSA product eligibility is IRS 213(d):

"medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."

Bug spray should fit into that definition, as it has a disease-fighting quality. Bug spray can play a major role in preventing the spread of insect-borne illnesses. Diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and encephalitis are only a few examples. While bug sprays may not kill bugs outright, they are effective in deterring insects from biting or remaining on skin or clothing. The IRS considers bug spray as a product to promote one's "general health," rather than a medical necessity, thereby making it ineligible.

Currently, insect repellent is only eligible when combined with a sunscreen of SPF 15+ and broad spectrum protection (when the primary purpose of the product is sun protection). However, there is still a possibility that insect repellent could be made eligible in the near future if the IRS provides further guidance.

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