As the U.S. makes preparations to ride out the COVID-19 wave, millions of Americans with FSAs are turning to their employee benefits to help them cover the cost of qualified medical products for virus preparedness.
Our customer service team has received an overwhelming response from concerned customers, and we wanted to get on top of the biggest questions quickly so you can get the best info to prepare for COVID-19.
Are masks FSA-eligible?
Surgical masks and those designed to prevent the spread of pathogens like the N95 mask, are currently not FSA-eligible. However, there may be some cases when a benefits administrator may approve a mask as a "preventive health" expense, but these cases are rare.
But, the CDC recently called for all Americans to wear face masks in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and masks have emerged as a critical tool to stop community spread. While the IRS has not issued guidance on mask eligibility, we hope they will reconsider their status in the future.
Are surgical gloves FSA-eligible?
Surgical gloves are also not FSA-eligible, although without any clear guidance from the IRS, these too could be considered an eligible expense by some administrators. In most cases, it's best to check with your administrator first to check their eligibility status under your plan.
Is hand sanitizer FSA-eligible?
Hand sanitizer may be FSA-eligible, but it likely falls under a class of products that require a prescription to purchase with FSA funds. In accordance with regulations put forth in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), over-the-counter products that contain "medicated ingredients" require an Rx to purchase. The most common active ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol, and products must contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be considered antibacterial.
Other products such as rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are may also be FSA-eligible, but could falso require a prescription to be reimbursed through an FSA. To find out more about eligibility for these products, contact your FSA administrator.
Update (4.7.20): With the passage of the CARES Act, the prescription requirement for OTC medicines with an FSA/HSA has been lifted. However, hand sanitizer has not been made eligible at this time. We are appealing to the IRS for additional guidance in the hopes that this essential product be made available to tax-free healthcare consumers.
Are antibacterial products FSA-eligible?
Currently no. These are not considered qualified medical expenses but we are hopeful that they may be in the future. As always, we'll keep you posted if anything changes.
What are the best options to combat COVID-19 with my FSA?
In truth, the vast majority of preparations that the CDC recommends to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as washing hands, avoiding large crowds and wiping down commonly used surfaces with antibacterial products, are not practices that can be aided by your FSA at this juncture. The fact is, FSA regulations need to expand to allow for preventive products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial products and more to help combat this public health crisis.
FSAstore.com is taking direct steps to help FSA users:
We have recently launched our new Virus Preparedness category to ensure families can find the most popular FSA-eligible items purchased during flu season. In response to the growing pressure of the broader market, we have taken further steps as advocates of our tax-free health community to make virus preparedness our top priority.
We will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each product found on the Virus Preparedness page to the CDC Foundation to support their response in combating COVID-19.
Our Fair Price Pledge: During the public health emergency in the US caused by the 2019 coronavirus, we pledge to provide fair price protections for all items in our Virus Preparedness category. We will make every effort to keep a steady supply of these items available to our customers at current prices. Prices may increase, however, if market conditions require it, such as paying a premium to secure product during a supply shortage, expediting product shipments to our warehouses so you can receive them quicker or other similar situations.
With millions of Americans struggling with the unexpected financial burden brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, FSAstore.com is looking to the IRS to clarify the eligibility status of key items like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and more. It's our hope that the IRS will provide guidance so that FSA users will be able to confidently use their tax-free funds to cover these much-needed items.