When it comes to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), you've probably heard about the tax breaks and benefits (not to mention being able to pay for health emergencies when they arise). But, what most people really want to know is what the term "eligible expenses" actually means.
This is especially true if you're having issues with pain, and you want to explore therapies like acupuncture or other types of alternative pain management.
Acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to treat pain, but it's still a pretty new type of treatment here in the U.S.
Acupuncture is an eligible expense with an FSA because it's considered an approved treatment for pain. Even the IRS lists acupuncture as a qualifying medical expense that you can deduct on your annual tax return.
While acupuncture is FSA-eligible, you still may be required to get a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) that describes how acupuncture would help in the management of a diagnosis, cure, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a medical condition or disease.
Are there any other FSA-eligible alternative pain treatments?
Potentially. Each situation is unique and will likely be handled on a case-by-case basis by your FSA plan administrator. Two common alternative treatments for pain include:
Naturopathy – non-invasive treatments that promote self-healing
Chiropractic – manipulation of the spine to alleviate pain and discomfort
It's at your doctor's discretion whether these alternative types of therapies would be useful in your treatment plan. If they are, and the service aids in diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, an LMN must be written, which may make the service eligible for reimbursement under your FSA. In short, any natural therapy could be eligible if it hits these marks.
The LMN must provide detailed information about how the alternative treatment would be used as part of your treatment plan and what the treatment would cover and how long treatment should last.
Regardless, your best option is to discuss alternative therapies with your physician to determine if there's an opportunity to integrate these treatments into your pain management plan.
Targets acupressure points to reduce pain throughout the neck and shoulders.
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Muscle pull or strain? Treat a muscle pull relatively easily with a combination of rest and home remedies you can buy with a Flexible Spending Account, FSA.
Muscle strain or pull can cause intense pain and immobility in whatever the affected body part is. It's the most common sports injury, but you can also get a pulled muscle by putting undue pressure or from sudden movements while performing daily tasks such as lifting or reaching. Luckily, you can treat a muscle pull relatively easily with a combination of rest of home remedies you can buy with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
You'll know you have a muscle pull when there's swelling or bruising, pain of a specific area at rest, or even inability to use that muscle. Here is what you should do when you have pulled a muscle:
Ice the area immediately
Ice is very effective for decreasing swelling and reducing pain. It also helps to relax the shoulder muscle to prevents spasms and stops any bleeding. Ice the muscle area 20 minutes every hour while awake.
Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants on a short-term basis to relieve extreme pain. A doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to reduce local inflammation, which is often the cause of pain.
Seeing a chiropractor is possible with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA),and so are massage therapies (if they are medically necessary) with a letter of medical necessity. Massage therapy promotes blood flow to affected area, loosen tight muscles, and release endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. Gentle manipulation by the chiropractor helps loosen tight back muscles and promote healing.
Application of heat is helpful in the long term to stimulate the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal the damaged tissue. Heat also decreases pain signals to the brain and increases flexibility in soft tissues around the muscles and connective tissues.
Product of the week:
Battle Creek products can help with pain relief, and they're FSA eligible.
The New Year is a great start to kick off your health care resolutions. Maybe you're looking to get into better shape or want to keep tabs on your health in general.
You may have recently signed up for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) during open enrollment. An FSA is an employer-sponsored benefit account thatlets you contribute pre-tax income toward health care.
After doing some preliminary research, or maybe relying on what you've heard, you could already be familiar with FSAs.
But, did you know which services are FSA eligible?
An FSA lets you pay for many different services. Alternative medicine such as chiropractic care is one such service that qualifies for FSA reimbursement.
A chiropractic visit, exam, or treatment would then be covered by an FSA as long as it's considered medically necessary. Transportation to and from the chiropractor (only in case of medical care) could also be considered eligible.
FSA Eligible Expense Qualifications
The IRS makes an important distinction between services for medical necessity vs. services or products that benefit general health. A massage may not qualify with your FSA (depending on your plan) unless it is medically necessary, or if you doctor provides a letter of medical necessity.
If you have any doubts about which services or products are covered by your FSA, it's best to reach out to your FSA administrator. Eligible expenses can vary per plan, and per employer. If you're not sure how to find information about your FSA administrator, please consult your HR department instead.