Know What Fitness Expenses Are Eligible With Your FSA
The new year is upon us- which means some people will be putting their health on the top of the resolutions list. If you have a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA), you are probably asking yourself what fitness expenses are eligible for reimbursement. While most items aren’t considered medical expenses and, therefore, not eligible under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) regulations, there are a few that may be on the “approved list” that might surprise you. Let’s review some of the items that may be approved and some that are not.
Taking the Right Steps
An important part of starting a new fitness routine is to consult your doctor before starting a program with moderate or intense activity. This is a great step in setting up your fitness goals and developing an effective plan to successfully start your fitness journey. A biometric screening, physical exam, stress test, and overall medical screening is considered an eligible expense that can be reimbursed from your HCFSA. But what about everything else?
Understanding What’s Eligible and What’s Not
Some of the most asked about items are gym memberships and fitness trackers. However, since these are mainly used to maintain general good health, toning and wellness, they are not considered eligible medical expenses for the average person. While fitness trackers such as an Apple Watch, Fitbit or Garmin aren’t eligible expenses, medical devices that monitor, screen, or test for certain diseases or medical conditions may be eligible. These include items like blood pressure and heart-rate monitors.
When it comes to gym memberships, personal training, or weight-loss programs, you may qualify for a reimbursement if you are working out to treat a specific illness or injury. For example, if you are working out to treat illness that are made worse by excess weight like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and more, your physician might prescribe weight training or aerobic activity to alleviate symptoms. Your physician or nurse practitioner will need to provide you with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) in these circumstances. Another important note is that you must not have had the membership or trainer prior to a physician prescribing it. The expenses must be something that you would not have incurred if not for the illness or injury. It is recommended that you speak with your HCFSA provider prior to committing to a program for which you are wanting to be reimbursed.
Fitness-related products that are not eligible for reimbursement include: pre-workout drinks, post-workout recovery drinks, or workout clothes.
Fitness Recovery Expenses
One overlooked accessory that is HCFSA eligible when treating specific injuries, are orthopedic shoe inserts. These special inserts help alleviate pain through reduced impact, shock absorption, and arch support while providing you with stability and flexibility during your fitness program. The way insoles fit and feel are dependent on many factors such as foot shape, size, and the way your feet strike the ground when you run or walk. It’s important to find the right pair for your individual needs. Keep in mind, inserts for general comfort are not eligible. Some HCFSA providers may require an LMN for certain inserts.
A few other fitness related expenses that can help with fitness recovery when treating specific injuries are massage guns, hot and cold packs, knee and ankle braces, elastic bandages, foam rollers, Epsom salt, acupressure mats, and kinesiology tape to name just a few. These may be HCFSA eligible expenses depending on your employer’s plan.
Take Advantage of your HCFSA
Be sure to take advantage of your HCFSA and all the fitness savings it can provide to help you achieve your goals this year. Before you make any purchases, it’s always a good idea to check with your HCFSA provider to understand what your employer’s plan allows so you can ensure it’s an eligible expense.
This blog is up to date as of December 2021 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.