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Why isn't it FSA eligible?
5 products that just miss the cut to be eligible with a Flexible Spending Account
On the surface, the regulations behind your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) seem cut and dry. After all, these accounts are designed to cover medical products and expenses that treat, prevent or diagnose a legitimate medical condition.
However, it's that last phrase that leaves many products and services open to interpretation, and some exclusions are more confusing than others. Let's examine a few products that you may think would be FSA-eligible, but unfortunately, just don't make the cut:
Poor dental health can lead to a wide range of potential health problems and can dramatically decrease an individual's quality of life. At first glance, it would seem like dental supplies would be a no-brainer, but these items fall under products that support "general health", and are therefore ineligible.
Smoking cessation products like nicotine gum and patches are covered by FSAs when prescribed, but e-cigarettes are not. Many newly-minted non-smokers can attest that e-cigarettes were instrumental in helping them slowly reduce their nicotine intake and kick their smoking habits for good. Medical experts are starting to concur -- a study published in August 2015 by Public Health England (PHE), an agency of Britain's Department of Health, suggested that governments should offer them to people looking to quit smoking.
While the debate rages on, the IRS is holding fast to its designation for e-cigarettes as "alternatives to smoking," rather than a "smoking cessation product." As more research is conducted on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and their efficacy in helping smokers quit, their status may change in the future.
Insect-borne diseases such as encephalitis and West Nile virus are legitimate concerns during the summer months, which is why many families apply bug spray diligently when outdoors. This is a product that certainly has some justification in preventing serious illnesses, but it is currently ineligible. However, if the bug spray contains some form of sun protection (at least SPF 15), it can be purchased with an FSA.
Shop for Sunscreen with Bug Spray at FSA Store.
You are what you eat! With all that we now know about nutrition and long-term health, dietary choices are typically among the most vital pieces of information that a healthcare professional can examine when assessing your current state of health. However, even with the rise of diet and healthy food plans that can dramatically improve an individual's overall health, diet foods are still not eligible for FSA reimbursement because they fulfill normal nutritional requirements and do not directly treat an ailment.
However, specialty foods may qualify for a medical condition such as a gluten allergy. But, this is only to the extent of the increased cost above what the same non-specialty item would cost, and you would want to check with your FSA administrator about what type of documentation may be required for reimbursement.
Sun-protective clothing (SPF)
Adult and children's sunscreen is FSA eligible, and bug spray only applies when it has an SPF component -- so why doesn't UV protective clothing qualify as well? Typically, sun protective clothing is not eligible under an FSA, but if it is used to treat a specific medical condition, it can be purchased with a Letter of Medical Necessity from a licensed medical professional.
If you have more questions about what your employee benefits cover, check out FSAstore.com's Eligibility List to easily determine which products are eligible either with or without a prescription.
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