HSA’s have become a popular way to pay for routine medical expenses. An HSA takes pre-tax money from your paycheck and places it an account for approved medical spending, and in many HSA’s, massage therapy is covered!
Because you never pay taxes on this money, you get a 25-30% savings on qualified expenses. This means that you can pay for contact lenses, dental expenses, specialist appointments and sometimes even over-the-counter medications with less impact on your wallet. Moreover, you can customize your HSA contributions to reflect your personal health spending: if you routinely need services that your insurance does not cover, you can carefully set the money aside.
Massage therapy is just one of many treatments that are not covered by health insurance; HSA’s offer an affordable way to budget and pay for routine sessions.
Massage and Bodywork is usually an allowable expense if you have a prescription. You can obtain a prescription for massage through your regular doctor or through your Chiropractor or Naturopathic Doctor. This is great news for folks living with chronic pain, repetitive strain or diseases for which massage is an effective treatment strategy. Also, most doctors will write a prescription for massage for stress management; massage therapy has fewer side effects than pharmaceutical interventions. You may be able to pay for massage with money you’ve already set aside in your pre-tax account, saving a lot of money on regular treatments.
What do you need in your prescription?
1. Reason for prescription: could be stress management or acute or chronic injury or repetitive stress injury such as computer work and/or travel for work.
2. Frequency of bodywork: 1x/week, bi-monthly or monthly
3. Duration of bodywork: 6 months or 1 year. Each year of HSA can be renewed.
Keep this documentation set aside for tax purposes.
What else does your HSA cover?
Most people remember to pay for doctor visits and prescription drugs from their HSA (or save the receipts and reimburse themselves later), but there are many medical expenses that people simply pay for, without realizing that because they own an HSA the expense is tax deductible. These are the most common:
Over-the-counter medications. Remember, your medicine does not necessarily have to be prescribed to be considered a qualified medical expense. Any time you buy a bottle of aspirin, cough syrup, bandages, or zit medicine for your teenager – save the receipt, so you can reimburse yourself from your HSA.
Dental expenses. Dental fees are typically the most expensive item that people forget to pay for from their HSA. From cleanings, to crowns, to dentures, all of your medically necessary dental work is eligible to be paid from your HSA.
Eye glasses and contacts. Just last week I went in for my annual eye exam. I got a new pair of glasses, a year’s worth of contact lenses, and a bill for about $650. I paid for it all with my American Express, but the receipt went in my HSA file and at some point I will reimburse myself tax-free. Also, remember that prescription sunglasses are also considered to be a qualified medical expense.
Physical therapy. Most individual and family health insurance plans have very limited coverage for physical therapy, but HSA dollars can be used for physical therapy.
Chiropractor visits. Remember that your HSA can be used for medically necessary expenses. If you go to your chiropractor due to a particular injury or functional problem, it is a qualified expense. The chiropractor’s charges would NOT be considered eligible if you are getting adjustments for general health maintenance.
Psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy: all of these modes of treatment can be paid for from your HSA. Keep in mind that qualified expenses are those that pay for treatment or prevention of a medical condition. If you are seeing a therapist strictly in order to save your marriage or improve your business skills, these would not be qualifying expenses.
More and more people are disillusioned with the way conventional medicine is practiced. The focus often seems to be on treating symptoms rather than reaching the root cause. Many physicians are very quick to prescribe the latest drug, when less expensive, safer, and often more effective natural remedies may work better.
However, the people who do rely on alternative medical treatments rarely receive reimbursement from their health insurance for these expenses. This is one of the reasons that HSA plans have become so popular among people who do favor natural and/or alternative medical treatments. Here is just a very small sampling of the types of treatment that would be HSA-qualified:
Homeopathy: Though controversial, approximately one out of 50 Americans currently uses homeopathy. Whether using the services of a professional, or simply buying homeopathic remedies from the natural food store, remember that these expenses can be paid for from your HSA.
Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, and is becoming ever more popular in the United States. Of course, treatment modalities that originated in other countries, such as Ayurveda (from India), would also be considered a qualified expense.
Faith healing, shamanism, energy medicine, and other (perhaps) far out stuff. Yep, almost any type of treatment could be considered an eligible expense. Keep in mind that the procedure must be related to the treatment or prevention of a specific health condition. Services designed to raise your chi, balance your chakras, or strengthen your aura might be more than the IRS will allow.
HSA’s are fantastic for people who are already healthy and want to use non taxable income to pay for continued health and wellness as well as people who are interested in using alternative medicine vs. western medicine to not only prevent sickness but heal ailments through a more holistic approach.