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That's Eligible?! Eric's diet and wellness journey
If you're like most Americans, you probably feel like you could be more focused on your health. Let's be honest -- most of us could probably be making healthier food choices to . But eating right is an uphill battle a lot of people fight each day.
Let's look at Eric, a 40-year-old male from the midwest. He's been working hard to reach personal health goals -- waking up early to work out at the gym, drinking more water throughout the day, and trying to sleep for at least eight hours every night (even investing in some items to improve his sleep habits).
As of his last checkup, Eric has a clean bill of health, but feels like he could be living a healthier lifestyle (think "less drive-thru" and more "walks in the park"). He's come a long way from when he first started and is finally ready to tackle a key step of his health journey: his dietary needs.
Nutritionists and dietitians
After learning about the differences between nutritionists and dietitians (dietitians are licensed professionals and have graduated from accredited programs) Eric is finally ready to see a professional who can help rehaul his diet -- which currently involves more cookies than it probably should.
Even beyond that, Eric can finally put his flexible spending account (FSA) to good use.
Unfortunately, a "general wellness" appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist may not be FSA-eligible unless you have a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN).
LMNs are written by qualified medical professionals, and basically state that there is a medical purpose or necessity for an activity, product or appointment. Because Eric doesn't have any underlying medical conditions or diagnoses, he probably wouldn't qualify for an LMN, and his FSA administrator may not allow these expenses without it.
His best bet is to contact his FSA administrator directly, who knows exactly what's covered and what isn't, and what types of documentation he'll need to make sure he gets reimbursed for those expenses.
Other FSA-eligible wellness tactics
Eric called his administrator and learned he'd need an LMN afterall, and couldn't get an LMN for the dietitian. But instead of getting discouraged, he decided to find FSA-eligible options for improving his overall lifestyle to go along with dietary improvements. Here are some of the options we can recommend for Eric:
Unhealthy habits: Eric doesn't have any major health issues, but he does have a bad habit that might affect his health in the future: smoking. We all know smoking isn't recommended, even his relatively small habit of a few cigarettes per day. Luckily, he can use his FSA to pay for over the counter anti-smoking products (Rx required) and smoking cessation groups.
Proactive weight management: Even though Eric is in decent physical shape, he still can't find a way to eat right all the time leading to a few extra pounds that his doctors think he should lose. If the problem worsens, and his doctors feel it's right, weight-loss programs might be FSA-eligible down the line, if they determine a medical need.
To get ahead of that potential concern, Eric is doing a lot of cardio workouts, but wants to stay within a healthy activity range, so he went out and got a blood pressure monitor. Now Eric can track his levels, so he never overdoes it, causing more health concerns.
Chiropractic care: Since Eric has been working out a lot, he may need chiropractic care in the future to deal with aching joints or workout related injuries. Like other specialists, if his doctor considers it a medical need, Eric can use her FSA.
At the end of the day, taking care of your body and improving your health is what matters the most. While working for a healthy body is an ongoing job, your FSA can be a big part of fixing some gaps in your lifestyle.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.