The ongoing global pandemic is causing us all to think and talk about things which have probably never crossed our minds before. Just ask my three-year-old, who regularly asks when "Corona" will go away so she can hug her friends again. (Insert heartbroken emoji here!) One of the terms that has entered our everyday vernacular is PPE, or personal protective equipment. We're talking masks, gloves, hand sanitizer. You might be wondering if these things are covered by health insurance or are reimbursable as qualified medical expenses through your HRA. This post should help clear up some of the confusion.
Update April 5, 2021: the IRS released an update that allows for face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes to be reimbursed through your HRA.
What is PPE?
OSHA defines PPE as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.”
For the pandemic we now find ourselves in, what we are referring to is masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, face shields, etc. that help protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
Now that these things have become mainstream and many find them a medical or safety necessity, will health insurance or tools like HRAs and HSAs help shoulder the cost?
Is PPE covered by insurance or HRAs?
The short answer: possibly, but it's going to be up to your health plan administrator for your QSEHRA or ICHRA. Check with your health insurance plan carrier if you have specific questions about insurance coverage.
Here are the qualified medical expenses you’re most likely concerned about right now.
- Masks: At Take Command, we are allowing for medical grade masks (not cloth) to be reimbursed through a QSEHRA or ICHRA. Disposable face masks with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) are eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA), a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Disposable face masks are not eligible with a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) or a limited care flexible spending account (LCFSA).
- Hand sanitizer: maybe, but it likely falls under a class of products that require a prescription to purchase with HSA funds
- Gloves: Nope. They are not eligible for reimbursement.
- Air purifiers: require a doctors note.
- Testing: The COVID test and antibody test are both eligible for HRAs and are also covered by health insurance.
Pro-tip: There is a new section for virus preparedness on the FSA website, which includes items that are covered by HSAs/HRAs. Check it out!
The CARES act also brings exciting changes to ICHRA and QSEHRA in the form of over the counter meds.
Here to help
Take Command is here to answer your questions. We know everything seems to change almost daily, and we’re happy to help lend some guidance and peace of mind. We've put together a couple of resources to help navigate Coronavirus, including our blog on Small Business Health Insurance and Coronavirus, our take on how the Families First Act helps small businesses, as well as our Coronavirus roadmap for small business owners.
A wife to one and mother to four, Keely does all of the things. She’s also dabbled in personal finance blogging and social media management, contributed to MetroFamily magazine, and is passionate about good food, treasure hunting and upcycling. With a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a knack for a witty punchline, it’s no surprise that Keely’s social posts are as clever as they get. In her (very little) free time, you’ll find Keely with her nose in a book or trying out a local restaurant with her family.