How To Use FSA for Gym Memberships
January 31, 2024
A gym membership is an investment in your health, as exercise is a necessary part of staying healthy. The American Heart Association recommends at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week, and the majority of Americans fall short of that goal. A gym membership can make it easier to meet your target and take control of your fitness.
Your FSA is intended to be used for health and wellness purchases, and a gym membership should fit the bill. Unfortunately, standard FSA guidelines don’t see things that way. But good news — there’s a workaround that can help you get the gym membership you need to stay healthy with a special doctor’s note. Here’s how to score an FSA-eligible gym membership.
What Is an FSA?
An FSA, or flexible spending account, is a health and wellness spending account co-sponsored by your employer. You’re able to designate a specific amount of pre-tax money from each paycheck that you want to contribute to your FSA, and your employer can match your contributions up to a certain threshold. Not all employers match FSA contributions, so it’s important to understand exactly how your FSA works.
You can use the money in this account to pay for eligible health and wellness expenses for yourself and your dependents, like your spouse or children.
There are three types of FSA accounts, and you’ll need to understand which type you have to know how to use it. We’ll primarily be discussing healthcare FSA accounts.
A healthcare FSA is the most common type of FSA. An FSA is an alternative to an HSA (health savings account) for people who don’t have a high-deductible insurance plan. An FSA can be used for qualified healthcare expenses, including vision and dental expenses. Maximum contribution limits change annually.
Dependent Care FSA
A dependent care FSA is a special FSA intended to cover healthcare expenses for dependent children under age 13 and adults who are unable to provide for themselves. Dependent care FSAs expand eligibility to include things like childcare and daycare programs for seniors.
Limited Purpose FSA
A limited-purpose FSA is similar to a healthcare FSA, but it can only be used for dental and vision-related expenses. It’s designed to act as a supplement to insurance plans that don’t offer dental or vision coverage.
What Does an FSA Cover?
Healthcare FSAs generally cover most of the same items that an HSA will cover — for example, most people use their FSA funds to cover co-pays for prescriptions and medical visits. You can also use your FSA to buy over-the-counter medical necessities, like pain relievers, cold medicine, and first aid supplies.
In addition to pharmacy aisle items, FSA funds generally cover expenses related to babies and lactation, like breast pumps and baby monitors. You can use FSA funds for reproductive health products, like menstrual care products and emergency contraception.
Your FSA may also cover beneficial skincare products, like medicated acne wash, eczema or psoriasis treatments, and high-SPF sunscreen.
Can You Get an FSA Gym Membership?
It seems like a gym membership would be an obvious way to put your FSA funds to good use, but it isn’t always easy to do so. Gym memberships, fitness equipment, and fitness tracking smart tech aren’t eligible for FSA coverage by default.
There’s a second layer to the FSA eligibility system that requires a doctor’s note. A Letter of Medical Necessity written by a healthcare provider can expand FSA-eligible offerings through a doctor’s recommendation that they may be necessary for your health. If your doctor believes that a gym membership would be beneficial for treating a healthcare concern, you may be able to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity that will help you use your FSA funds for a gym membership.
Should I Use My FSA for a Gym Membership?
In most cases, any unused FSA funds are gone at the end of the year. If you don’t use it, you lose it. If a monthly gym membership would help you spend every FSA dollar you have available, you’re getting a two-for-one deal. You’ll have a gym membership to help you take control of your health and fitness, and you’ll avoid wasting any FSA funds.
In addition to the dual benefit, you’ll also save money on your gym membership by using your FSA. Your FSA dollars are pre-tax, which means they go further. If your employer matches your contributions to your FSA, you’re getting double the funding. This could technically make your gym membership free.
Many gyms partner with employers to offer discounted rates to employees of an organization. Getting a membership with a partnered gym can cut your costs even further. The situation is serendipitous. If you want to start working out regularly, it would be a shame not to take advantage of all the perks that come with using your FSA for your gym membership.
How To Get a Letter of Medical Necessity for a Gym Membership
It’s relatively easy to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity for an FSA gym membership if your doctor believes that a gym membership will be beneficial to your health. There are two ways to go about receiving a Letter of Medical Necessity. The first way is through your doctor, and the second way is through Truemed.
Getting a Letter of Medical Necessity From Your Doctor
You can speak with your doctor about how you believe a gym membership would benefit your health. If your doctor has already recommended that you practice better weight management or increase your level of physical activity, it will likely be a short conversation. Doctors understand that exercise is fundamentally necessary for human health and are often quick to agree with a patient’s decision to make healthy lifestyle choices.
The only obstacle you may encounter is wait time. It can take up to a month to get a doctor’s appointment. If you don’t want to wait that long to get a Letter of Medical Necessity for your gym membership, Truemed has a quick and efficient solution.
Getting a Letter of Medical Necessity Through Truemed
You can use Truemed to quickly obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity for a gym that uses Truemed FSA/HSA integration. Just choose “Pay With Truemed” at checkout when you shop through one of our merchants, and enter your payment details.
You’ll be asked a few questions about your health circumstances, and we’ll pair you with a healthcare provider to determine your eligibility. If you qualify, you’ll get a Letter of Medical Necessity that you can use to justify utilizing your FSA funds to pay for your gym membership.
How To Use Your FSA To Pay for a Gym Membership
You may need to send a copy of your Letter of Medical Necessity to your FSA custodian since your FSA doesn’t belong solely to you. They’ll need a record of how and why you made your gym membership in order to consider it an eligible expense.
You can use your FSA debit card to sign up for a gym membership through a Truemed integrated gym. It’s just as easy as using a normal debit card, and you don’t have to worry about reimbursement. You can keep your monthly membership on autopay if there will always be sufficient funds in your FSA account to cover your gym membership.
Storing Your Purchase Records for Your Gym Membership
Recordkeeping is important with your FSA because FSA funds are pre-tax dollars. You need to save your monthly receipts or invoices, along with a copy of your Letter of Medical Necessity, to prove that you used your FSA funds appropriately. These documents work together to prove that your expenses were justified, both for tax purposes and for your FSA custodian.
Using Your FSA for a Gym Membership
You may have to work your way through a few roadblocks, but you can use your FSA for a gym membership. It’s worth a little extra work to save money while taking control of your health and fitness.
It should never be difficult to manage your own wellness. Gyms that use Truemed for FSA/HSA payment integration make it easier to empower yourself. We’re proud to partner with numerous gyms that share the same philosophy.