Health Reimbursement Account Eligible Expenses

Know Your Health Reimbursement Account Eligible Expenses

Be aware of changed rules and regulations

It used to be simpler to figure out what items and services were health reimbursement account eligible expenses.  Basically almost anything that you could buy for any medical condition was deductible, from aspirin to band-aids.  Now, however, the list of health reimbursement account eligible expenses is much more contained to those items designed to treat an actual health condition that you might be experiencing.  What these changes did was to eliminate some of those items which people popularly used as health reimbursement account eligible expenses in the past – and especially those items which were easy to stock up on as the account plan year was ending and people needed to spend things out.  Some examples of what was eliminated from the previous health reimbursement account eligible expenses include:

– Nutritional supplements unless they are very specifically prescribed by your doctor for a specific reason, and even then they may not be covered

– Most non-prescription medications are no longer allowed – you can no longer just go and stock up on aspirin for example in order to spend out your FSA

– Any item you would use purely for cosmetic reasons are not eligible expenses, even if they are in the medical aisle

So the days of buying a few years’ worth of aspirin in order to spend out your health care spending account are over.  But what are still health reimbursement account eligible expenses?  There is still a wide range, including some items which may surprise you such as:

    • Bandages for a current wound are allowed, though technically only in moderation
    • Birth Control Pills are usually health reimbursement account eligible expenses
    • Breast Pumps and Related Supplies can be used
    • Chiropractor expenses are health reimbursement account eligible expenses
    • Diagnostic Devices are eligible expenses if your doctor says you need them
    • Fertility Treatments are often allowed but you should check first
    • Hearing Aids can be deducted
    • Certain Home Improvements related to a medical issue
    • Pregnancy Test Kits are eligible expenses
    • Psychiatric Care, even outpatient therapy, co-pays
    • Stop-Smoking Programs are, but there may be requirements
    • Transportation and Lodging related to medical needs are lesser known eligible expenses
    • Vision Correction Surgery seems elective but is often deductible, but you should check
    • Weight-Loss Programs that are prescribed by your doctor may be allowed

As you can see, there are still many common eligible expenses, but it can still be a challenge knowing exactly what your total will be in any given year.  You will likely have to be conservative with any planning because it is not as possible now to just buy common over-the-counter items and expect that you’ll be able to deduct them if you have not spent things out.  For those who have some elective medical procedures under consideration, however, you may have more ability to flexibly plan so that you can spend things out in a given year where you are coming up short.

Our best advice when it comes to planning your health reimbursement account eligible expenses is to put everything on paper and then bring it to your doctor or other health care provider.  Make sure what you plan is both likely and realistic, and that the expenses you believe you will incur make sense.  Also check to see what is covered by your insurance, because you may be planning an out-of-pocket expense that you find out is actually covered – usually good news but not completely if you’ve planned to have that expense be an important part of your health reimbursement account eligible expenses for that particular plan year.