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Amid concerns about people being misled, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding taxpayers and plan administrators that personal expenses for general health and wellness are not considered medical expenses under the tax code. This means personal expenses are not deductible or reimbursable under health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).

According to a recent press release, the IRS believes that some companies may be misrepresenting the circumstances under which food and wellness expenses can be paid or reimbursed under account-based health spending plans. These entities provide consumers with “letters of medical necessity” (essentially a doctor’s note) to purchase health-related items such as nutritious meal plans, gym memberships, fitness trackers and dietary supplements.

Generally, medical letters must result from face-to-face interactions with the patient, either in-person or through telehealth visits. Thus, acquiring a medical letter by filling out an online questionnaire – as is commonly practiced by companies such as Truemed – is not adequate.

DBS encourages agents and client with questions regarding medical expenses related to food, nutrition, or wellness to visit or contact our Customer Service Representatives at (800) 234-1229 for more information.

Note: Account-based health spending plans that pay for, or reimburse, non-medical expenses are considered voided plans. As a result, all payments made under the plan – even reimbursements for actual medical expenses – are includible in income.