How to spend your flex-spending at home

By Kelly Kreth  |
November 23, 2010 - 9:55AM

If you have money sloshing around in your Flexible Spending Account, you have just over one month to use it or lose it.   What to do after double-booking your shrink, ordering contact lenses and prepaying the orthodontist?  Maybe look around your apartment for inspiration.

The following home-related expenses may be reimbursable under your employer’s healthcare plan, according to Maria K. Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare, a healthcare provider network.

  • HEPA filters: Good indoor air quality is an important part of preventative health and physical recovery, as well as the number one defense for allergy and asthma patients, so many doctors and allergists suggest air filtration machines like high-end HEPA filters for severe allergies, pulmonary sensitivities, recovery from surgery, asthma, and other health issues related to poor indoor air quality.
  • Air conditioning: If there is a severe mold problem in your home, you may be able to use your flex spending dollars on a new A/C system.
  • Mattresses and pillows: If medically necessary, mattresses or special pillows can sometimes be covered under your flex spending plan.
  • Hot tubs, saunas, massage tables etc People with rheumatologic disorders (fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus, etc) are able to purchase hot tubs (good luck getting your co-op board to sign off), saunas  and other heat, water, and massage therapies, including a massage table that would reduce the price of getting an in-home massage. 
  • Elevators, ramps and stair lifts: Stair lift systems, home elevators, or ramp construction (outside the home) may be reimbursable for those with physical handicaps.

Before you do anything rash, understand that most plans make it clear that you cannot use flex spending dollars just to improve your general health or to relieve physical or mental discomfort not related to a particular medical condition. To qualify for reimbursement, you may need a doctor’s letter of medical necessity along with a receipt.  Check with your plan first.



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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