Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) cover thousands of medical items and services, but you may not know they cover many wellness expenses that are not so obvious. Post-workout and post-injury recovery products have been gaining in popularity over the last several years. Products such as foam rollers, percussion massagers, saunas and ice baths offer non-medicated alternatives to pain relief and recovery. These products can reach into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars – so having an FSA or HSA to help pay for these costly items is a great way to save on these high ticket purchases.
What is an Ice Bath (cold plunge)?
An ice bath or cold plunge is a post-workout and post-injury recovery solution that involves immersing your body in near-freezing water for a short duration. While submerged, the cold therapy provides natural compression from surrounding water pressure and promotes blood flow to major organs like the heart, brain, and lungs.
Ice baths can also be referred to as cold plunges, hydrotherapy or cryotherapy tubs. The cold water helps reduce inflammation, relieve muscle soreness, and increase blood flow to pained areas across the body. Ice baths are an effective recovery tool for athletes and non-athletes alike, and can also be used to treat injuries.
Can You Use Your FSA or HSA to Pay for Ice Baths?
Most ice baths will be considered “general health” products and not be qualified for FSA spending. While ice baths themselves are not specifically listed as an eligible expense under FSA guidelines, they may be covered if they are used to treat a medical condition. As an example, if you have a sports injury and your doctor recommends an ice bath for treatment, you may be able to use your FSA funds to pay for them with a doctor’s note.
FSA funds can be used to pay for health expenses that are used to directly treat a medical condition (you can learn more about FSA eligibility in our guide to FSAs). FSAs generally cover items like prescription medications, medical equipment, and some types of alternative therapies. However, expenses that are purely for general health and wellness, such as gym memberships or dietary supplements, are not typically eligible for FSA reimbursement.
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How to Use Your FSA for Ice Baths
Your FSA can be used for an ice bath purchase if you take the following steps:
- Talk to your doctor: If you are using ice baths to treat a medical condition, talk to your doctor to see if they can provide you with a written recommendation for the treatment.
- Keep records: Keep a record of your ice bath sessions, including the date, time, and duration of each session.
- Save receipts: Save your receipts for any ice or ice packs that you purchase for your ice baths.
- Submit a claim: When you are ready to request reimbursement, submit a claim through your FSA administrator. Be sure to include any documentation that supports your claim, such as a doctor's note or receipts for ice packs.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of submitting receipts and going to your doctor for any FSA purchase, you can instead visit BuyFSA.com (or the download the buyFSA app) to ensure all purchases are qualified for immediate purchase with your FSA card.
Typically, ice baths are not listed as an eligible expense under FSA guidelines, but they may be covered under certain circumstances or on a product by product basis. You can always talk to your doctor and FSA administrator to determine if your ice bath purchase qualify for reimbursement.
For a full selection of FSA and HSA recovery products, you can check out the BuyFSA Muscle Recovery category. BuyFSA only lists the products that are guaranteed FSA-approved and has new and exciting products like cold plunges added every month.