Q.- An employee wants to be reimbursed from her health flexible spending account plan for the cost of diet food. She provided a note from her doctor saying that she is morbidly obese. Can we reimburse the cost of her diet food from her FSA?
A.- The IRS has held that food that substitutes for regular nutritional requirements is not a medical expense and cannot be reimbursed from a health flexible spending account plan.
The cost of special food that is modified for a special diet (such as gluten-free food for someone diagnosed with celiac disease) may qualify for reimbursement but only to the extent the cost of the food is more than the cost of regular versions of the same product. To be eligible for reimbursement, the participant would need a note from a doctor saying the special food is necessary for treating a medical condition, and the participant would have to document the difference in cost between the regular version of the food and the special version of the food (for example, the dollar amount of rice flour compared to the dollar amount for regular flour).
The cost of general diet food would not be eligible for reimbursement, even if the participant has a medical condition such as morbid obesity.