Can You Use Your FSA to Buy Supplements?

If your doctor has prescribed specific supplements for you, you may be able to use your FSA to make the purchase. However, vitamins and supplements that are used to maintain general good health are not considered eligible expenses and your card will be declined. In limited circumstances, vitamins recommended by a doctor to treat a medical condition may be eligible with a letter of medical need (MLN). At first glance, vitamins and other dietary supplements seem like they could be qualifying medical expenses for holders of health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSA).

However, the IRS states that “medical expenses cannot include the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medications,” etc. Prenatal vitamins and supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin (found at Cooper Complete Joint Health) are eligible for over-the-counter purchases. Unfortunately, while this update means that over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and Advil, and over-the-counter allergy medications can now be purchased without a prescription, the law did not extend to all vitamins and dietary supplements. If a doctor determines that your body needs a specific vitamin supplement, even if it doesn't meet the usual HSA or FSA parameters, a letter of medical necessity might be sufficient.

While multivitamins are likely to be the most popular over-the-counter supplement, only a few specific vitamins have met the requirements for the HSA and the FSA, provided that patients have documentation from their doctors stating their need. It's not a guarantee in any way, but filing a well-presented case with your benefits administrator can go a long way toward getting the supplements you need without paying taxes. However, in some cases, doctors may prescribe a specific vitamin supplement to treat a medical condition that is not included in FSA regulations. Talk to your doctor about your specific health problems and request a note or letter detailing the medical need for the vitamin or supplement.

Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before changing any supplement, nutritional or exercise program, or if you suspect you may have a health problem. Then, purchase the recommended vitamin or supplement and send the detailed receipt along with a copy of the doctor's note for reimbursement to your FSA plan. Amounts spent on vitamins, nutritional and herbal supplements, and natural medicines will only be reimbursed if the substance is prescribed by a doctor to treat a specific medical condition.

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