For many people, spring is a time when seasonal allergies set in. Lots of residents turn to allergy treatments in order to manage their symptoms. With the right documentation, many of these treatments can be paid for with a flexible spending account. Here are some that might be considered qualified expenses.
Can Residents Use Their Flexible Spending Account to Pay for Allergy Treatments?
Allergy Testing and Treatments by Doctors
Allergy testing and treatments that are administered by doctors (or their physician's assistants or nurses) typically qualify as long as they’re medically appropriate. In order to prove that they’re medically appropriate, patients may need a letter from one of their doctors -- usually their primary care physician.
Patients can request a letter when they’re receiving a referral from their primary care physician. Most doctors are happy to furnish a letter outlining their recommendations if the letter will help with the management of medical expenses.
Even though allergy testing and treatments are often covered by medical insurance, a flexible spending account can still provide significant savings. Many treatments require regular shots, and some health insurance plans have copayments or coinsurance that patients must pay every time they receive an injection. Paying for any copayments or coinsurance amounts with an FSA can add up to a lot of tax savings over the course of a year.
Of course, patients who don’t have health insurance can save even more by paying for their testing and treatments with an FSA, because they usually have to pay out-of-pocket than patients who have health insurance.
Prescription Allergy Medication
Prescription allergy medication is also typically considered a qualified expense. In most cases, patients don’t need any documentation from their doctor other than the prescription itself. Since patients don’t have access to prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription, FSA administrators know that these medications have been deemed medically appropriate by a physician or other qualified professional.
As is the case with allergy testing and treatments, prescription medications are often covered by health insurance. An FSA, however, may make these medications more affordable for patients who don’t have health insurance, and it might help reduce how much patients with insurance pay out-of-pocket for copayments and coinsurance.
Over-the-Counter Allergy Medication
As a general rule, over-the-counter allergy medication can’t be paid for with an FSA. If patients have a prescription for OTC medication, though, it may count as a qualified expense. Since health insurance plans often don’t cover OTC medications, this is a benefit that almost everyone can take advantage of.
When recommending OTC allergy medications, doctors often don’t write prescriptions because patients can obtain these medications without one. Prescriptions can be written for OTC medications, however, and doctors often will when a patient requests one for financial reasons (as long as the medication is medically appropriate).
Some air filters can be paid for with an FSA if a patient has a letter from a physician or other medical provider. Before purchasing an air filter, patients should contact their FSA administrator and request a list of eligible models. In some cases, air filters may have to meet specific requirements to qualify, and they even might have to be purchased from an authorized dealer.
Medical providers sometimes don’t cover treatments like air filters in appointments, and when they do they often don’t even think to offer a written recommendation. For these reasons, patients may have to intentionally ask whether an air filter would help their symptoms and request a letter if their provider thinks an air filter will provide some relief.
Ask Your Agent for a List Flexible Spending Account-Qualified Expenses
As allergy season approaches, feel free to contact your agent and request a list of qualified expenses. You may just be surprised at what you can use your flexible spending account to pay for. There may be relief available for your symptoms and your wallet.