Using Your Flex Spending Account For Massage
It's no news that the economy is making people take a close look at their personal budgets and figuring out ways to cut spending. But tightening your belt doesn't mean your health has to suffer, especially if you're one of the millions of Americans who have a flexible spending account (or health savings account).
Many people have these accounts, but don't spend all they're entitled to each year. This is in part because they aren't aware of all of the eligible expenses…such as massage therapy.
A flexible spending account (FSA) is a tax-advantaged financial account that allows you to set aside a portion of your earnings to pay for qualified expenses, and is offered through an employer's cafeteria plan. Money put into an FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in a substantial payroll tax savings. The medical expense FSAs are commonly offered with traditional health plans. With most FSAs, you must use all your funds each year.
A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to people who are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. They are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. The individual owns the HSA, and funds may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability. Unlike an FSA, funds roll over to the next year if not spent.
What Expenses Qualify?
Based on Section 213 (d) of the federal tax code, a qualified expense “must be to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness.” So not all massage will qualify as a medical expense. However, since therapeutic massage is a common component of medical treatment plans for chronic pain and muscle issues, as well as stress-related illnesses like high blood pressure and anxiety, there is a good chance your plan will cover it if your health care provider prescribes it.
In order for massage to be covered, there are a few steps you need to take
1. Get a prescription for massage. Talk to your medical practitioner (any healthcare provider who can write a prescription).
2. Find a good, licensed massage therapist and schedule your appointment. In order to qualify, a licensed massage therapist must perform the massage. If you aren't sure whether your massage therapist is licensed, just ask. You won't need to bring the prescription with you; all you need to do is enjoy your massage.
3. Ask your therapist for a “medical receipt.” Tell your therapist you need a receipt for the FSA/HSA and they'll give you a receipt with the information your provider needs to approve the expense.
What if you don't have an FSA? Look into it during your insurance company's next open-enrollment period. It's a great way to work massage and other health expenses into your budget.