While you likely have a primary care physician and hospital in your local area, there may be times when you need to travel farther from home to see a specialist for diagnosis and/or treatment. Unfortunately, these types of travel expenses can take a toll on your wallet. Thankfully, your FSA can be used for many of them.
For your travel to be considered an FSA-eligible expense, it needs to be directly related to receiving medical care. So if you drove two hours to visit a specialist to diagnose your condition, the associated expenses would be eligible. If, however, you went on vacation and needed to visit urgent care while you were away, these travel expenses would not be eligible.
FSA-eligible expenses include:
- Parking fees - These fees are eligible if you need to pay for parking at a hospital, doctor's office, or a nearby parking garage while receiving treatment. You cannot claim parking costs if you stop for a meal or visit a shopping center on your way to or from your appointment.
- Ambulance fees - Clearly, if you need an ambulance, there's probably a medical need for it. Rest assured, these costs are FSA-eligible.
- Tolls - You can claim the cost of tolls only if the route you need to take to get to your appointment is a toll road. Tolls incurred for anything other than getting to and from your medical appointment are not eligible.
- Fuel - The cost of the gas required to get to and from a medical care facility is eligible for reimbursement. To submit a claim, you'll need to keep a mileage log, as well as the receipts for your gas purchase.
- A rental car - If you're renting a car because you don't have your own or need one to get around in a city that you've traveled to for medical care, you can submit a claim for this cost.
- Public transportation - Bus, metro, taxi, train, or even ferry fares are also eligible expenses, provided the primary purpose for the trip is based on your medical needs.
You can also be reimbursed for your travel expenses if you are traveling for dependents. So if your child or spouse needs you to drive them to an appointment or accompany them on public transportation, you can submit a claim for these costs as well.
Depending on how far you have to travel, there's a chance you'll need to stay overnight. If you're staying at a hospital, you can claim this cost, along with any meals you purchase there.
The cost of staying at a hotel near the hospital may also be eligible if the lodging isn't considered a luxury. In order to claim these expenses, you may need a letter explaining why they're medically relevant from a qualified medical professional.
More importantly, what isn't eligible?
There are some travel expenses that won't be eligible for reimbursement. These include:
- Vehicle depreciation
- Auto insurance
- Maintenance and repair costs
- Traffic or parking tickets
- Travel to or from work
- Personal travel expenses
As with any expense, you'll need documentation for reimbursement. And with travel expenses, you'll likely need more than just your receipts. Most administrators will require proof that the travel was medically necessary, which can be as simple as a bill or doctor's letter proving that you did receive medical care while on the trip. As always, speak with your FSA administrator before traveling to determine what types of documentation they'll require for your qualified expenses.
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.