Psychiatric care: FSA Eligibility

Psychiatric care: eligible with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
Psychiatric care is eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA), or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Psychiatric care is not eligible with a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA), or a limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA).

What is psychiatric care?

Psychiatric care is treatment by a psychiatrist, which is a type of medical doctor who practices psychiatry. Psychiatry is the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study and treatment of mental disorders. Mental disorders are normally diagnosed by psychiatrists in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a publication by the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatric care normally consists of psychotherapy and psychiatric medicine.

Psychiatrists are designated through a process in which a physician who has graduated medical school specializes in the field of psychiatry and become certified in treating mental illness. They may also be designated through the process of a scientist who becomes qualified as a research doctor in the field of mental illness. Only physicians may provide psychiatric care.

Psychiatric care, decades ago, involved long hospital stays and often times required family intervention due to attitudes surrounding mental health disorders. Patients were expected to remain confined for weeks or months regardless of their willingness to stay, and were evaluated by psychiatrists for the state of their mental health and recovery progress through psychiatric treatment (American Psychiatric Association).

Today, most psychiatric care is through outpatient treatment. There are still psychiatric wards and long-term treatment facilities for extreme cases of mental disorders, particularly when a patient is evaluated to be a threat to themselves or those around them. Outpatient treatments for psychiatric care normally involve short appointments with a psychiatrist with even shorter follow-up appointments to assess changes in medication, impacts of medication on other behaviors, impacts of other medicines on mental health, and recommendation of other behaviors or treatments that may assist with healing, recovery or adjustment of a behavior.

Psychiatrists once primarily focused on talk-therapy sessions that incorporated psychiatric medicine, but over the last 30 years, psychiatric care has focused on psychiatric medicine or psychopharmacology follow-up appointments, which can be turned over at three or four sessions per hour. Talk-therapy requires a full hour, normally, and provides lower reimbursements from health insurance companies.

Psychiatric care, regardless of the form it takes, is eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account.