Flexible spending account federal guidelines

Medical Flexible Spending Account

Medical Flex Plan Deductions - Eligible or Not?

Flexible Spending Account Federal Guidelines

So you are looking for ways to deplete your medical flex plan balance by the plan’s deadline (normally December 31). The IRS sets flexible spending account federal guidelines but an employer’s individual plan may be even more restrictive. For example, the IRS allows laser eye surgery but your particular plan may not. Still, there are lots of options that are listed below:


  • Co-pays and deductibles
  • Chiropractor and acupuncture (alternative type treatments)
  • Contact lenses, contact lens solution, and prescription glasses
  • Over the counter medicine, such as pain relievers and allergy medications
  • Smoking cessation programs, drugs, patches and gum
  • Medical Monitoring and testing devices
  • Dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, etc) when used to treat a  illness
  • Massage therapy to treat an injury
  • Dermatology as long as it is not for cosmetic purposes
  • Doctor recommended weight loss programs

  • Prescription Drugs
  • Orthodontia
  • Flu shots
  • Birth control pills and condoms
  • Hearing aids and batteries
  • Speech therapy
  • Psychotherapy, psychiatry, psychology
  • Physical therapy
  • Fertility treatments
  • First Aid Kits
  • OTC contraceptives and Rogaine

There are some items that may be allowed only if you are diagnosed by an M.D. with a specific medical condition.  The important distinction is that the treatment can not be for preventative purposes.  Items that can be classified as eligible in your medical flex plan include:

  • Acne Treatments
  • Sunscreens
  • Joint pain supplements (Glocosamine)
  • Vitamins
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Fiber Supplement
  • Blood Pressure Machine
  • Custom Orthodics
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Vaccinations

Lesser known allowable reimbursements may include such expenses as:

  • Learning fees to special schools for a child with severe learning disabilities
  • Transportation costs incurred for treatments
  • Braille books, magazines and guide dogs for the vision-impaired

Remember, before you schedule laser eye surgery or visit the drugstore, please contact your Human Resources Department to review flexible spending account federal guidelines and the details of your particular plan.  Most medical flex plan providers detail their eligible expenses on a website which can easily be accessed.

Medical Flex Plan Ineligible Expenses

Many plans also list ineligible expenses on their websites. Some medical flex plan administrators approve reimbursement for any treatment or procedure prescribed by a doctor while others are quite restrictive.   Again, check with Human Resources on direction for your particular plan.

The current tax code and flexible spending account federal guidelines do not allow you to spend your flex spending account dollars on the following items that many workers try to push through:

  • Your share of health insurance premiums
  • Over-the-counter vitamins (unless prescribed by a doctor)
  • Health club dues
  • Electrolysis
  • Cosmetic Surgery

You should note that inadequate documentation is the number one reason most claims are rejected.  Simply sending in a receipt that shows how much you spent on a service or product may not be enough.  For example, if the receipt is not itemized, it may be difficult for the claims personnel to determine even if it satisfies the flexible spending account federal guidelines, let alone your particular plan's requirements.

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