Amounts paid for certain personal protective equipment (PPE) are now treated as qualified medical expenses
Personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes purchased for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are now treated as qualified medical expenses (IRS Notice 2021-7).
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On March 26, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released IRS Announcement 2021-7, which states that personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes that are purchased “for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19” are qualified medical expenses under Section 213(d) of the Code.
Health savings account (HSA) participants may use the funds in their HSA to pay for masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes on a pre-tax basis. Sponsors of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) may also allow these expenses to be reimbursed from their plans. Plan sponsors should review their plan documents with their legal counsel to determine if they need to make any amendments in light of the new announcement.OR
Certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medications, as well as menstrual care products, are now considered qualified medical expenses, without the need for a physician prescription. You may use HSA, FSA or HRA funds to pay for these products.
- For FSAs and HRAs, you can use your account funds to purchase these products. Use your Optum Financial payment card as you normally would for these purchases. Individual merchants, like pharmacies and convenience stores, must update their point of sale (POS) system to now recognize these products as qualified medical expenses for FSA and HRA. If their system is not updated and the sale doesn’t process, you can pay out of pocket with the option to reimburse yourself with account funds. As a reminder, keep your itemized receipt or explanations of benefits, which are needed to verify each purchase so you can be reimbursed.
- For HSAs, you may use your Optum Financial payment card as you normally would since no claim reimbursement process is required. Please retain copies of your receipts as needed for tax purposes.
- Both provisions for OTC and menstrual products apply to amounts paid or expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020, and are ongoing without an expiration date.
Information pertaining to qualified medical expenses (QMEs) are taken from applicable tax laws, interpretations, and publications, as applicable. Tax laws are subject to change and interpretation. Please consult a tax advisor for applicability to your individual situation.
Certain Limited Purpose FSA plans will turn to a post deductible plan (allowing medical and Rx) once the entire medical plan deductible is met. Once the entire medical deductible is met, then the health care FSA list applies.
*Your FSA plan may exclude reimbursement for certain categories of items. Check your plan for specific coverage details.
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