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Asked and Answered: Why isn't insect repellent covered by my FSA?

Eligibility

Now that spring has sprung in much of the U.S., insects are starting to pop up everywhere. And it won't be long before many of you are counting down the days 'til summer's over, waiting for these pests to leave for another year.

Don't worry, you're hardly alone. Insects are annoying, and no matter how many candles you light around your property, they manage to find their way through your citronella and lemongrass force field. It seems like insect repellent spray is the only way to keep them from eating you alive.

But, even though insect repellent is probably the best way to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay -- possibly preventing the spread of disease -- it's not currently eligible to buy with your flexible spending account (FSA).

In fact, in addition to not being FSA-eligible, it's also non-eligible for those using a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA), dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA), health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

To a lot of FSA holders, this might be more annoying than the bugs. But before you start shopping for FSA-eligible mosquito netting, read on. There might be a really good alternative to consider.

But why? Just why?

Please allow us to get a little technical here. According to IRS regulations, qualified medical expenses for reimbursement through an FSA include those that diagnose, mitigate, prevent, cure, and/or treat an injury, illness, disease, or symptoms of a disease.

Although the IRS hasn't made any formal comments on insect repellent not being eligible, they also haven't publicly declared their support, either. While there may be a case that it could qualify under prevention, it's just not currently clear and therefore not eligible (although we're hoping that changes in the future!)

Don't shoo us away just yet

You didn't think we'd give you a problem without a potential solution, did you? There's one exception (and it's a good one). It turns out sunscreen with insect repellent is considered an FSA-eligible expense, since it's paired with a product where the primary purpose prevents a medical condition, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

With one product, you get to protect your family from sunburn, and fight off insect bites? Not a bad deal. (It also has aloe in the mix, to help soothe tender summer skin … but that's a topic for another Wednesday.)

So, the good news is that even though standalone insect repellents are not FSA-eligible, you still have some options to consider with your tax-free funds. The better news is that the IRS sometimes provides comments that allow new FSA-eligible products, so there's always hope the stance on traditional bug sprays might change in the near future.

And when they do, we'll be back to break it down for you, so you can make the best possible tax-free spending decisions.

BullFrog Mosquito Coast Pump Spray

On the trail, the lake, or wherever your next adventure leads, you can hit it hard with 2-in-1 sun and insect protection.

Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream

This histamine blocker temporarily relieves pain and itching from pesky bug bites.


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From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears on Wednesdays, 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.

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