The deadline to complete open enrollment for your 2018 health insurance is December 15th. This article will show you how to use your employee benefits to reduce the cost of your massage treatments. One of the questions we get quite often is “Does my insurance cover massage therapy?”

Unfortunately, in South Carolina, massage therapists are not allowed to bill insurance directly for massage. But, you may have other options for reducing your cost to get regular massage therapy. Specifically, you may be able to use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for your massages.

Some people don’t see massage as a healthcare expense, but it absolutely can be. The benefits of massage therapy can include: decreased muscle pain, improved mobility and range of motion, improved circulation, decreased stress, relief from headache pain, and much more.


What is an HSA or FSA?

HSAs and FSAs are both programs that allow you to set aside money for qualified medical expenses like prescriptions, copays, deductibles and other healthcare costs. Because these funds are put aside pre-tax, this means you don’t pay any taxes on these funds.

Some employers will actually contribute to your HSA or FSA as well. The contributions (yours and your employers) will be loaded onto a debit card that you can use to pay for medical expenses.

If you’d like to see what the IRS considers a qualified medical expense, (See this publication) from the IRS. If you have any questions about these benefits, reach out to your HR department.


Are They Really Worth It?

Having an HSA or FSA can have tremendous tax benefits that can save you a lot of money at tax time. Plus, it provides a little extra cushion for unexpected emergencies. And since it is deducted from your paycheck, you’ll have your savings on autopilot.

Even though an HSA and FSA are slightly different, when you’re using either to pay for your massage treatments, it will be the same process.


Will an HSA or FSA Pay For My Massages?

In most cases, yes. However, there are a few things that you’ll have to do first in order to be sure you’re covered. We’ve put together a list of steps to take to get your massage covered by your HSA/FSA:


1.) Contact Your HR Department

The first step in the process is to reach out to HR or your insurance carrier and ask if massage therapy is a covered treatment. In some cases, your actual insurance policy will reimburse you for the full cost of your massage treatments, as long as you follow their processes. At Simply Massage, we’ve found that most people have been able to use their HSA/FSA with no problem.


2.) Visit Your Doctor

After you’ve received confirmation from your insurance carrier, the next step is to schedule a visit to your family doctor. But, to ensure your best chance of getting a prescription, don’t just say “I want a massage”. You’ll need to do your homework, and go into your visit prepared to communicate your specific symptoms.

There are lots of physical and mental conditions that may qualify for massage. Fibromyalgia, headaches, depression, chronic back pain, sciatica, poor circulation, and arthritis are all conditions that may be a qualifying medical expense for massage therapy. (Be sure to check out the links above to see how massage therapy can help these conditions).


3.) Get a Prescription

After you’ve shared your symptoms and received a diagnosis, tell your doctor that you’d like to try massage therapy as a treatment and ask him/her to write a prescription for massage. A Prescription proves to the insurance company that massage is a necessary medical expense.

Be sure your prescription includes:

  1. The reason you need massage therapy. (Fibromyalgia, sciatica, etc.)
  2. How many sessions/month you’ll need.  (Weekly, 2x/month, 1x/month, etc.)
    * If you need a massage at least once per month, we recommend a membership to lower the cost of each visit.
  3. How long you will need treatment.  (3 months, one year, until resolved, etc.)
  4. Session Length. (Should they be 30-minute, 60-minute or 90-minute massages?)

Some healthcare providers may even provide a prescription over the phone if you have an established relationship, or have already received a diagnosis.


4.) Pay for Your Massage with your HSA/FSA Card

After you have your prescription, you’ll just need to schedule your appointment. At Simply Massage, we make it easy to book a time for your massage. You can call us anytime at (864) 288-3055, book online, or via the MindBody mobile app. Then, you’ll just use your HSA/FSA debit card to pay for your massage at checkout. It’s that easy.

Depending on the type of FSA plan you have, your funds may expire at the end of the year. So, if you still have funds that you need to use, don’t delay. Start the process now so that you don’t lose that money.


How Much Can I Save with an FSA/HSA?

Using an FSA for a massage membership from Simply Massage can save you 35% – 40% on all of your massages*.

If you want to see how much an FSA can save you across the board, take a look at this calculator.

*Members get an automatic ~20% discount plus the tax savings. Assumes 15%-20% tax bracket range.


Tips for Success

When seeking a massage therapy prescription, you’ll want to go into it with the right intention. Remember, insurance is used for actual medical expenses, and massage therapy can be a tremendous help to your physical and mental wellbeing. Be sure to communicate all of your symptoms to your doctor so that he or she can make an accurate diagnosis.

At tax season, you may also be able to deduct massage therapy that was not paid for with an HSA/FSA card. So, be sure to keep accurate records. If you ever need any additional documentation at tax time, we’re always happy to provide anything that you or your accountant may need.


Make the Most of Your Benefits

Regular massage therapy is one of the best ways to prevent injury, reduce pain, and manage stress. Book your massage today to experience the benefits first-hand.