SBA & The FSA/HSA Stores: A Match Made in Alphabet Soup Heaven

This month we launched a partnership with The FSA Store and The HSA Store. For those who are unfamiliar, these sister sites represent the largest online marketplace for guaranteed FSA/HSA eligible products. Seems like a perfect fit for us, right? So, why haven’t we done this before now you ask? 

Well, as you know, we are sticklers for ensuring the claims we approve meet the criteria set by the IRS for eligible expenses. Over the years, we had reservations about the eligibility of some of the items that were submitted for reimbursement that had been purchased at The FSA Store.  As such, when they would reach out, we would politely decline and continue to closely monitor all purchases from their sites.

But they wouldn’t take no for an answer and finally asked to meet with us to better understand our concerns. At that meeting we shared a list of 15 items purchased at their store that caused us concern. Impressively, one by one, they provided evidence that the item was approved by SIGIS (Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards) after their rigorous testing and approval process to meet the IRS requirements for eligibility. 

Who is SIGIS and why are they the expert in all things eligible expense-wise? Here’s what they have to say:

“SIGIS is a non-profit, membership corporation, launched in 2007, that is responsible for the development and management of an industry standard to meet IRS requirements for operating an inventory information approval system (an “IIAS”). This standard enables Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and Health Saving Account (HSA) debit cards to be accepted at participating merchants by communicating the dollar amount of the eligible health care items to their benefit plan administrator for approval. The IIAS technical standard, certification process, and Eligible Product List were launched in 2008, allowing merchants to meet the new IRS requirements.” 

What we learned is that SIGIS developed and maintains a list of health care over-the-counter items and other services that are considered eligible under Internal Revenue Code Sections 213, 105 and 125 rules for reimbursement. This list is reviewed monthly by the SIGIS List Committee, a group of benefit plan administrators, to assure the accuracy and integrity of the list. Additions and suggested eliminations from the list are referred to the Committee for monthly discussion and appropriate action.

The criteria utilized by SIGIS and offered by the FSA/HSA stores is far beyond what we’ve used in the past. For example, we asked about a product purchased on their website: a self-massager.  How could this possibly be eligible? They replied that this particular massager has a heat element, and the IRS says heat treats muscle injury. Why is this important? An item, even though not 100% used for medical purposes, but can treat an injury or medical condition (with a doctors approval) can be considered eligible under the “dual-purpose” rules. A self-massager is eligible. Who’d a thought that? 

I was so impressed with their knowledge of every product and why it met/didn’t meet the eligibility criteria, I decided to replace our EBIA (Employee Benefit Institute of America) eligible list with their rigorously monitored list. Hurray! We will not be sorting through a participants’ FSA Store shopping cart to determine eligibility any more… it’s all eligible!  It will save us tons of time and research knowing we can rely on their expertise.  Now when a participant goes to our website: and hovers over Resources, they can click “FSA Eligible Expense List” or “HSA Eligible Expense List”. The participant goes directly to a search bar on each respective site. They can search by name, type, or browse by the alphabetic letter. And they can be guaranteed their claim will be accepted! We even have a $5.00 coupon to spend at The FSA or HSA Store on our home page! 

As we wrap up another year, with FSA balances still lingering on the books, we have recently shared these links with your participants. What a great way to spend unused funds towards the end of the FSA plan year.



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