What Do Bandages, Travel and Acupuncture Have in Common?

The answer: all of these items are qualifying eligible Health Savings Account (HSA) expenses according to Uncle Sam. That’s right, you can reimburse yourself for car mileage for going to a doctor visit across town, getting poked at an acupuncture visit and even those Band-Aids for your booboos.

Qualifying Medical and Dental Expenses

Here at Tango, we get asked a lot of questions about whether or not items are eligible for reimbursement.  Some people are blunt and tell us, “I weigh 400 pounds. I need a gym membership,” while others are more shy and only hint at needing to buy something “for a friend.” While some answers are pretty obvious, others can be a little tricky.

For example, your stylish Prada prescription eyeglasses are qualifying expenses, but your Ray-Ban non-prescription sunglasses are not. Similarly if you have surgery performed because you broke your nose in an unfortunate skiing accident, it is a qualifying expense but getting a rhinoplasty because you’re looking for a change in scenery is not a qualifying expense.

Other examples of qualifying medical and dental expenses include:

  • Doctor’s office visits
  • Dental care and braces
  • Prescription medications (even if those medications could have been bought without a prescription)
  • Glasses, contact lenses and accessories, LASIK surgery
  • Chiropractor
  • Acupuncture
  • Hearing aids
  • Long-term care
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Birth control and vasectomy
  • Transportation expenses
  • Bandages and crutches
  • Breast pump and nursing supplies
  • Weight-loss programs (if for physician-diagnosed medical issue)
  • Sunscreen that is greater than 15 SPF

Examples of non-qualifying medical and dental expenses include:

  • Non-prescription medicines
  • Surgery for only cosmetic reasons
  • Childcare
  • Dance lessons (including tango lessons!)
  • Nutritional supplements and vitamins
  • Teeth whitening
  • Electrolysis (hair removal)
  • Swimming lessons

To view the full IRS list of qualifying and non-qualifying medical and dental expenses, check out their Publication 502.

Whose Expenses Can You Include?

In addition to any of your eligible expenses, you can also include medical and dental expenses you pay for your spouse or your tax dependent(s) − dependents can include children and other relatives if you cover more than half of their living expenses and they don’t have to be on your insurance plan. To see who the IRS considers to be “qualifying” children and relatives check out Publication 502.

One thing to remember is that you must be legally married to your spouse when the service was provided or when the service was paid for them to qualify. Likewise, dependents must be your dependent when the service was provided or when the service was paid for.

For domestic partners, the rules can be a little tricky, but we clarify them in a previous blog post.  Generally, a domestic partner can only use their HSA for their domestic partner if the partner is a tax dependent. So be sure to check that out if you have any questions.

We hope this post helps clear some of the confusion around qualifying and non-qualifying expenses. If not, feel free to call us or e-mail us to ask questions. Happy spending and happy savings, too!

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