Many patients today decide to utilize a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), provided by their employer or within a community healthcare plan, to pay for their acupuncture therapy, prescribed herbal and nutrient medicine, or even their co-payment with insurance. This is one of 4 tax advantaged healthcare spending accounts that will cover much of the cost of care. A debit card is often issued with an FSA, which can be used at my office. My office and name should be registered with the account company, which is usually automatic with a national registry of physicians. If there is no debit card, the patient pays out of pocket at a discounted rate and seeks reimbursement from the health spending account. This must be made clear to this office at each treatment, as a professional superbill must be created for documentation in all cases. Creating superbills after the fact involves more time and trouble, and the patient should remind me after each session that they are using an FSA or one of the other tax-advantaged healthcare spending accounts, such as a Health Saving Account (HSA for sole proprietors of a business), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA), and Medical Savings Accounts (MSA). The patient may also want to pay out of pocket at a discounted price, and use the superbill to seek reimbursement from the insurance company. This is a perfectly acceptable way to also handle insurance payments, and involves direct dealing between you and the company that you contract.

The Health Savings Account (HSA) offers the greatest monetary benefit, and provides a full tax deduction for patients with any type of sole proprietorship in a Small Business. This account is simple to set up through your bank, or through your financial adviser, and is simply a savings account to keep records of out-of-pocket health spending for tax records. While the payments come out of pocket, the tax deduction often fully pays for this healthcare up to a yearly limit for either the individual or the family. Currently, the individual yearly limit on the HSA of $2500.00 more than pays for the professional medical services from the Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist in most cases. More and more businesses are also now offering contributions to a Flex Spending Account (FSA), or a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) as well, as an employee benefit. Often, the employee needs to request this benefit, and needs to contribute to it as well, but it serves as a pre-tax exemption, reducing the yearly taxable income, which is quite the advantage for some employees who are on the cusp of a higher tax bracket.

One of the complications of workers utilizing these tax-advantaged accounts to reduce out-of-pocket costs for Complementary Medicine has been the rule that if the employee does not use this money that it may be lost at the end of the year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) has mandated that $500 of this spending account will be carried over to the next fiscal year, without this cynical loss of funds. Since some of the money in most Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) plans is contributed by the worker, this has been a disincentive in the past, and workers should be aware and monitor this legal provision in the management of their FSA. If the patient has chosen a group health plan at work with a high deductible, a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) is available on request, sometimes managed by the insurer, that pays for the out-of-pocket costs of the high deductible, including the services of the Licensed Acupuncturist if these services are covered on the plan. Often, most of the cost of the HRA is paid by the employer as a benefit, but the employee often has to request this account to take advantage of the employer benefit payment. By ignoring these accounts, you are just throwing money out of the window.

These tax-advantaged healthcare spending plans were set up because of the frustration in inability to pass simple legislation providing individual freedom of choice in healthcare for decades due to massive lobbying efforts. All of the healthcare coverage and payment complication in the United States is unfortunate, as it adds stress to the already stressful situation with disease and injury. These alternatives to standard insurance payment are sensible, and provide a means to help pay for the expense of Complementary Medicine. Don't let the complications of these plans discourage you from obtaining the considerable economic benefit provided.

Information Resources

  1. Information on tax-advantaged Health Spending Accounts, such as the FSA, HSA and HRA, is available on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible_spending_account
  2. A 2013 government comparison of the 4 types of tax-advantaged healthcare spending accounts is available by clicking here: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21573.pdf
  3. A simplified explanation of the FSA and HSA is presented here by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: http://www.yourhealthcaresimplified.org/news/medical-reimbursement-accounts-hsas-vs-fsas/