In today’s world, massage therapy is finally being recognized as a medical service as opposed to a luxury. Yes, there are patients who do seek out massage for the sole purpose of having a spa day, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the majority of patients, at least in my experience as a massage therapist, receive massage for healing purposes. And while most who need a corrective approach are treated for muscle pain or emotional stress, some patients are prescribed massage for injuries or medical conditions.
When it’s a medical necessity for a specific condition, massage may be eligible for reimbursement. The service can be covered by a health savings account (HSA), or a flexible spending account (FSA). The two means of assistance differ in ways, so I’ll break the topics into two different articles. For now, let’s discuss the steps for using HSAs to cover the expense of a medical-massage. Next time, we’ll address FSAs.
What is a Health Savings Account?
An HSA is a type of savings account that allows you to store money for qualifying medical expenses. The money is deposited on a pre-taxed basis, and the untaxed dollars can help lower medical costs. The funds in the HSA can be used to pay deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, as well as other approved expenses.
You can only contribute to your HSA if you first have a high deductible health plan (HDHP). An HDHP is a health plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family; for the year 2020, that is. The government can change the minimum deductible amount every year, as well as the maximum amount of money you can contribute to the account.
Keep in mind though, you are allowed to change the contribution amount throughout the year, so long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum determined by the government. You can also withdraw money from the HSA at any time, but there will be taxes withheld from the amount plus a 10% penalty fee.
Find Out if You Qualify for Massage Coverage
Some, but not all, insurance providers, offer HSAs with their HDHPs.
The first step is to contact your insurance company. Even if your doctor rules massage as medically necessary, some insurance policies still won’t cover massages. Don’t assume you’re covered just because your doctor prescribed the massage. Confirm with your insurance provider before moving forward.
Another important thing to note: self-employed individuals can qualify for HSAs, but are not eligible to open FSAs. This is due to HSAs being owned by the employee, whereas FSAs are owned by your employer. You legally can’t make contributions to yourself.
Visit Your Physician
Once you know you qualify, set up an appointment with your physician. Ask your doctor if the symptoms of your injury or medical condition can be effectively treated with massage. If your physician deems massage necessary for your treatment plan, medical massage will be prescribed. Your physician will have to provide the following information with the prescription:
- The reason for massage therapy treatments
- How frequently massage will be received
- The duration time for each treatment
- How long the treatments will be provided (months, weeks, etc.)
It’s advisable to purchase a massage membership to lower the cost of each treatment.
Find a Massage Therapist
After opening an HSA, you will receive a debit card linked to your account. When paying your massage therapist for the service, use the card in accordance with the terms made in the prescription. (For example, don’t use the debit card for eight massages in a month if the prescription-only permits four per month. It’s easy!)
If you don’t use all the funds in your HSA over a twelve-month period, the tax-advantaged funds may roll over into a new HSA fund. Contact the HSA provider, and request that the funds be sent to you by check or directly into your bank account. After receiving the leftover money, deposit it into the new HSA account for future use.
And if you want to know another bonus regarding HSAs, these accounts accumulate tax-free interest, whereas FSAs do not.
Conditions That Can Be Covered by HSA
- Injury – car accidents, workplace injuries, etc.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Piriformis syndromes
- Chronic back pain
Now You Know!
Using your HSA to pay for massage should be easy if you follow these tips.
Next time, we’ll talk about how to use FSAs to assist with medical massage costs.
“Health Savings Account (HSA) – HealthCare.Gov Glossary.”HealthCare.Gov, 2019, www.healthcare.gov/glossary/health-savings-account-HSA/.
“How HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) Work with HDHPs.”HealthCare.Gov, www.healthcare.gov/high-deductible-health-plan/hdhp-hsa-work-together/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.
“HSA: Healthcare Expenses Table.”Member.Aetna.com, member.aetna.com/member/hsa_healthcare_expenses_table.html#M. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.
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