What is an autopsy?
An autopsy is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a dead body internally and externally that is commissioned to examine the cause and manner of a person's death. This process is conducted by a doctor called a pathologist who has a specialty in pathology, and depending on the circumstances surrounding an individual's death, a forensic pathologist may be requested who specializes in criminal and unexplained cases where an individual dies suddenly or violently.
How is an autopsy performed?
Autopsies may have specific focal points depending on the manner in which a person dies, but they generally follow a consistent order. First, the pathologist will examine the external surfaces of the body to note specific information like height/weight, as well as identifying marks like scars, tattoos and signs of trauma. Next, a large incision is made from the sternum down to the public bone to examine the abdominal cavity, as well as the internal organs. These organs are systematically removed and observed, and the same procedure is done at the head to remove the brain and spinal cord.
After these organs have been removed, pathologists will first examine their surface for easily recognizable signs of disease or trauma, before taking tissue samples to further observe them under a microscope. These steps are taken to discover the true cause of the individual's death by examining the body at both a first-hand physical and molecular level to outline what sources of trauma, the timeline of events and other factors contributed to the person's demise.
Why is autopsy reimbursement not eligible?
Consumer spending accounts, such as FSAs, HSAs and HRAs, are designed to cover the cost of expenses related to the prevention or care of a legitimate medical condition. Because autopsies are medical procedures that are conducted on individuals post-mortem, they do not fall under the regulations for reimbursement for these accounts, and therefore are not eligible.