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CBD: HSA Eligibility
CBD (Cannabidiol) oil and other CBD products are not eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).
What is CBD oil and CBD products?
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is the second-most prevalent of the active ingredients behind THC, the psychoactive element found in marijuana. While CBD is an essential ingredient for those who utilize medical marijuana, CBD oil and other products are typically derived from hemp plants. Hemp (a cousin of the marijuana plant) contains little to no traces of THC, and CBD products are typically extracted by steeping the stems, seeds and leaves in alcohol or oil. (Harvard Health Publishing)
CBD is technically legal in all 50 states as long it’s derived from hemp. Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act in late 2018, which ensures that it will no longer be treated as an illegal substance under federal law (FDA). But CBD products that are derived from marijuana re more highly-regulated at the state level. THC-derived CBD is legal in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. (NORML)
Of course, there are experts with more details on the subject. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has more information on what CBD products are legal in your state.
What is CBD used for?
Proponents of CBD claim its benefits include reduced anxiety, inflammation, arthritis and overall pain relief. Unlike prescription medications, there are few adverse side effects from CBD. Patients generally cannot become addicted to CBD, which can make it preferable to traditional pain pills. In 2018, the FDA approved a CBD-based drug to treat seizures for people with a rare type of epilepsy (FDA).
CBD usually comes in a few different forms, including oil, tablets and creams. Many veterinarians even sell CBD products for animal anxiety.
Is CBD FSA-eligible?
The IRS has yet to issue guidance on the eligibility status of CBD oil and products, so they are ineligible for purchase with FSA, HSA, HRA, LPFSA and DCFSA funds at this time.
Can I Use My FSA Money To Buy CBD?
Can you use FSA money to buy CBD? Indeed, CBD is a hot topic for many people — especially those who have been diagnosed with conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, and more.
CBD’s legal landscape is a complex one, and the IRS has not weighed in with its own guidelines. What does this mean for FSA eligibility?
Let’s take a look at whether you can use FSA funds to purchase your CBD drops, CBD softgels, CBD gummies, CBD creams, or any other form of CBD.
Oh yeah, the scope of this post is just FSA money and just personal-use CBD. Other kinds of spending accounts — like HSAs — may qualify certain CBD purchases — like doctor-prescribed medical CBD.
What’s A Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
First, an overview of Flexible Spending Accounts: FSAs are employer-sponsored accounts that allow employees to set aside pre-tax income to cover medical expenses.
An FSA allows you to put aside up to $2,750 a year (as of 2021) to cover the cost of things like copays, prescription drugs, and other qualified medical expenses.
This is a powerful type of account because you don’t have to pay any taxes on this money! You just tell your employer how much you want deducted from your paycheck (pre-tax) each payroll period, and it gets placed into the account for you to use later.
Pros of FSAs
There are definitely some great things about FSAs:
- Tax-free funds
- You can choose how much to contribute (up to $2,750)
- No need to file extra forms during tax time
- Covers a wide range of medical expenses
Cons of FSAs
There are also some things to consider about FSAs:
- It’s a “use-it-or-lose-it” type of account: Meaning any leftover funds are returned to your employer at the end of the year (or grace period).
- Mainly employee funded: Employers are less likely to contribute to an FSA (as opposed to an HSA or HRA).
- FSA funds only cover eligible expenses.
What Products Are FSA Eligible?
We mentioned that a con of FSA funds is that they can only be used for eligible expenses.
It’s true. There is a range of qualified expenses, but it’s not always easy to figure out what your FSA will cover.
The IRS defines “medical expenses” in Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code: “Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and for the purpose of affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.”(1)
Some of the most common types of expenses you might use an FSA for:
- Doctor visits
- Prescription drugs
- Lab work
- Dental services
- Vision care
- Diagnostic products
- Home health items
So where does CBD fall under all this?
First a little primer on CBD.
CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid. It’s a plant compound that can be derived from both the marijuana and hemp strains of the cannabis plant.
It’s gained a reputation among scientists and the general population for having pain reducing, stress relieving, and wellness boosting qualities.
Given its many health and wellness properties, CBD’s often used to help address symptoms common to conditions like:
- Chronic pain
CBD isn’t an FDA-approved drug. But it’s a federally-legal, natural substance that many people are turning to for relief.
As always, though, consult with your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan.
Different Kinds Of CBD Products Available
You can find CBD products in a variety of forms, which makes it easy to find one that works for you.
CBD can be found as:
There’s no shortage of CBD products to choose from!
Finding CBD Near You
CBD can be found across various stores, in person and online. You can find it in health and wellness shops, dispensaries, and even gas stations. Online, just search for “Best CBD Oil” and you’ll find a variety of CBD products to purchase.
Just be sure to do some research to ensure the purity and quality of the products that you purchase.
CBD laws can be a little confusing, but here is some general information surrounding CBD legality.
CBD is 100% federally legal across as long as it is:
- Derived from hemp
- Contains no more than 0.03% THC content
State laws may differ from federal regulation, though. Some states have more lenient laws around CBD and even cannabis. Others have more stringent statutes. Others still don’t especially articulate CBD rules and sort of just defer to the federal laws.
Visit our page Is CBD Legal in the United States? (CBD Laws)for more information.
Is CBD An FSA-Eligible Expense?
So can you buy CBD with your FSA funds?
The short answer is no.
CBD products — like CBD oil and CBD creams — are not eligible for FSA reimbursement. Right now.
The longer answer is probably not, but it’s not 100% clear. The reason is: IRS guidance dictates eligible use of funds in the FSA. And the IRS has not given any guidance around CBD yet. This leaves CBD in a bit of a gray area.
If you try to buy CBD with your FSA money, you’ll likely be asked to repay the funds.
However — seems like there’s always a “but” — laws and the cultural norms that influence them are ever-evolving. For example, in 2022 you’ll be allowed to use HSA (health savings account — one of FSA’s cousins) for CBD and hemp oil products prescribed by a doctor for a diagnosed medical condition.(2) There’s hope for FSA+CBD!
Alternative Ways To Pay For CBD
While the FSA may be a no-go today, there are other ways to pay for CBD and even save money like:
- Subscribe and save programs
- Paying in installments
- Using credit cards that get you points
Check out our blogs Smartest Ways To Pay For CBD and Making CBD More Affordable for more tips on how to save the most on your CBD products.
Buying CBD With Your FSA? Probably Not…
CBD is an immensely popular product that many people use to manage their health conditions and boost their overall wellness. If you have an FSA, you may be wondering if CBD counts as one of the “medical expenses” you can use your funds for.
Unfortunately, the answer is not likely. Products like CBD oil and CBD gummies are likely not eligible for FSA, as the IRS has not set any guidelines around CBD.
Although your FSA money probably can’t be used to buy CBD products, it’s always a good idea to check in with your HR and benefits department to double check. They may have other programs to offer. And the laws and regulations may change over time.
Plus, there are many other ways to save on CBD, so be sure to check out those options, too.