If an HRA spending card is accepted by a retailer, can I assume that the expense is permitted?

  • by M
  • Dec 05,2018
  • 5 answers

I have an Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)-based health insurance plan through my job.
At the start of every calendar year, my company contributes $1,600 to my HRA account.
These funds can be used for any medical expenses not covered by insurance. This includes co-pays, coinsurance, and "other medical expenses".
It's the "other medical expenses" that I am inquiring about. There seems to be very little information on what this comprises.
6 months ago I attempted to buy some vitamins with my HRA card, and it was rejected. More recently, I used it for acupuncture and a massage, and the HRA card was accepted. If the card was accepted by the merchant, can I make the assumption that the expense is permissible?


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Insurance Answers (5)

GEEGEE last week

Not always. Generally, if some purchase is not allowed, like your vitamins, it will be rejected immediately, but that's not always the case. There's often an audit performed on purchases, and sometimes they will accept a charge initially, and then ask for more info about what was done/purchased. If it is determined that the expense is not qualified, you will have to repay the money.

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Judy last week

probably, but it's your responsibility

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StephenWeinstein last week

No. A merchant can accept the card even if the expense is not permissible. A merchant may not even be able to tell whether the expense is permissible. And if the card is a Visa or MasterCard and the merchant accepts Visa or MasterCard, then the merchant has to accept the card even if the expense is not permissible (this is due to rules by Visa and MasterCard that merchants must accept all their cards if they accept any of them).

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A Hunch last week

No.
It is your responsibility to use it according to the IRS requirements. The store/office that you purchase the items from just thinks it is a credit card. They don't know anything about it being associated with an HRA.

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Casey Y last week

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf
This page shows what can or cannot be included...

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