Using Your FSA to Pay for Massage Therapy
In a previous article titled “Using HSA to Pay for Massage Therapy”, I explained how to receive reimbursement for medically necessary massages. This time we’ll talk about Flexible Spending Accounts, or FSAs, and how they can also be used to cover medical massage expenses.
Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts are similar, with both allowing you to put aside tax-advantaged funds specifically for medical costs. But depending on your unique situation, one of these accounts may be more ideal than the other.
What is a Flexible Spending Account?
An FSA is an account that holds funds set aside for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. The contributed funds are tax-free and can be used to cover copayments, deductibles, medications, and additional healthcare costs.
Should You Open an FSA?
Let’s recap a bit on HSAs first, HSAs are associated with high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and are used to assist with costs of the deductible. If you’re looking for a means of assistance for the cost of massage therapy, HSA is only an option if an HDHP is your sole insurance carrier.
Now let’s get back to the FSA. An HDHP isn’t a prerequisite for opening an FSA. FSAs are available to all employed individuals, with the exception of those who are self-employed. This is because HSAs are owned by the employee, and FSAs are owned by your employer. Legally, you can’t make financial contributions to yourself. An FSA is ideal if you plan on staying at your current job. If you change jobs, the FSA account will be forfeited.
A benefit FSA has over HSAs is its coverage of certain nonmedical services. For example, childcare can be covered by the tax-advantaged FSA funds. If you’re able to have your massages covered by an FSA, the same account can be used to offer respite while you receive the treatment.
Steps for Massage Reimbursement
- Speak to your employer about opening an FSA account. Explain why you believe massage is medically necessary for your condition. Note that emotional stress and muscle pain alone isn’t likely to qualify. (A list of conditions commonly covered by FSA will be listed towards the end of this page.)
- Discuss a set amount of money to be transferred from your paychecks to your FSA. This contribution amount, unlike in the case of an HSA, cannot be changed or withdrawn from the account. Think this one through carefully.
- Some employers will make their own contributions to their employee’s FSA, but they’re not required to.
- After you determine the recurring transfer amount, set up an appointment with your physician. You’ll have to reiterate the reasons for seeking medical massage and why FSA is being used to cover it. In order for the massage prescription to go through, your doctor will have to provide the following information:
- 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.)
- After receiving an FSA debit card, use it to pay for your following massage appointments. Use the card in accordance with the terms made in the prescription. It’s advisable to purchase a massage membership to lower the cost of each treatment.
Use it or Lose it
Unlike HSAs, FSAs don’t automatically roll over unused funds. It’s crucial to keep a close watch on the funds as you use them, especially towards the end of the calendar year. All leftover funds will be forfeited unless you have the option to set up a rollover plan. Ask your employer if you have a rollover option. However, even if you do have a rollover FSA plan, the amount that rolls into the next year’s plan can’t exceed $500.
Your FSA may come with a grace period, possibly up to two and a half months after the year’s end. Don’t just assume this, however, and clarify the terms for leftover funds with your employer.
Conditions Commonly Covered by FSA
Both HSAs and FSAs can be used to cover the following conditions:
- Injury – Car accidents, workplace injuries, etc.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Piriformis syndromes
- Chronic back pain
Now You Know!
Does it look like you meet the qualifications for massage reimbursement with FSA? Take the first step by consulting your employer and go from there!
Author, Licensed Massage Therapist
Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.
“Health Care Options, Using a Flexible Spending Account FSA.” HealthCare.gov, 2019, www.healthcare.gov/have-job-based-coverage/flexible-spending-accounts/.
“How HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) Work with HDHPs.” HealthCare.gov, www.healthcare.gov/high-deductible-health-plan/hdhp-hsa-work-together/.
Canva by ChristianChan