We get asked that question a lot, and the answer is yes and no. If you have already used your deductible and you would like your insurance company to cover the cost of a massage chair, the answer is almost always no. When World’s Best Massage chairs wrote this, massage chairs do not have an insurance medical code or DME and cannot be covered by insurance. BUT, the question is; can you use your FSA or HSA (Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account) to cover some or all of the costs.
For some of you, the answer is YES! Why only some? Because to get compensation from your insurance company to pay for your massage chair, you’ll, in all likelihood, need to meet two conditions:
- You have a chronic back issue, and perhaps a history of claims to treat your condition
- You have either an HSA (health savings account) or an FSA (flex spending account).
Think you might qualify? If you have had chronic back pain, we’ll leave that to other blog posts to explore this condition – certainly, it is one of the reasons people buy a massage chair. But for this article, let’s take a look at the HSA and the FSA to understand better how they work and why they may qualify you for a massage chair purchase.
Can you use your HSA to buy a massage chair?
An HSA is a medical insurance plan all its own, while an FSA is typically offered as an added component of a traditional healthcare plan. Having said that, both are as their name implies: Savings accounts into which you can deposit pre-tax earnings as part of your health coverage via a provider such as Allstate, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), United Healthcare, and many others, or in the case of an FSA, a plan available through your employer. These accounts allow for flexibility in spending that money, so long as the expense is related to medical needs.
For the HSA, both the policyholder (you) and your employer can make deposits into the account. Of course, the IRS can’t help themselves when they smell taxpayer revenue, so they enforce contribution limits given the tax haven nature of these plans. For 2015 the limit was $3,350 for a single, $6,650 for married couples, plus $1,000 extra if you are over 55.
Since funds in an HSA roll over each year and those funds are always your property as a policyholder, it’s easy to see how enough can accumulate to pay for the cost of a massage chair. And this equates to nice savings – for the policyholder who saves up to 30% on the massage chair (due to the tax benefit) as well as the insurance company who enjoys the relatively low cost of massage therapy from a chair that keeps on giving massages year after year.
If you have an HSA for your medical coverage, all you’ll need to do is contact your insurance company to inquire if a massage chair is eligible.
So what are the odds you can use HSA funds to pay for a massage chair? From our experience, pretty good as we’ve had people do just that recently.
If you look at just a partial list of expenses explicitly approved by the IRS, it looks promising:
- artificial teeth
- birth control pills
- contact lenses
- doctor visits
- some dental expenses
- vision care (eyeglasses, contacts, Lasik surgery)
- hearing aids
Massage therapy and massage chairs aren’t on the list of explicitly approved expenses, but neither are on the list of specifically excluded expenses either. Once you’re sure all is clear, you’ll use the debit card issued with your HSA to purchase your massage chair.
Can you use an FSA to buy a massage chair?
The FSA or flexible spending account option can actually be a bit more, well, flexible when it comes to purchasing a massage chair. It has the same tax advantages as the HSA. It can be set up within many insurance policies available through employees as part of the “cafeteria plan” provision of Section 125 of the IRS code. The name derives from when they first started utilizing these plans when they referred to available items in the company cafeteria. Still, today this code refers to flex spending for medical purposes too.
Basically, if an FSA is available to you, you can use it for various medical expenses and often for dependent care or other expenses. As mentioned, this dough (sorry, I can’t resist with the cafeteria reference) is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in substantial payroll tax savings.
And just like the HSA, some money in your FSA rolls over at the end of the year. The keyword here is “some.” It used to be no FSA funds rolled over, but because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, you get to carry over up to $500 into the following year without losing the funds.
So to purchase a massage chair with your FSA funds, you’ll first want to clear it with the provider of your “cafeteria” plan to ensure they will ok the expenditure. As with the HSA, there are no crystal clear guidelines for whether a massage chair will be qualified.
However, looking at the list of approved expenses, you’ll find:
- Artificial Teeth
- Birth Control Pills
- Capital Expenses
As to the list of specifically excluded expenses for FSA funds? Neither massage, massage therapy, nor massage chairs are on that list. So if you require massage treatments for a medical reason, the chances seem good you’ll be approved. If indeed you are approved, you may have a paper form to complete, or you’ll be authorized to use your FSA debit card, also known as a flex card, to be used to purchase your massage chair.
So if you are in the market for a massage chair, you might be able to buy a massage chair using your HSA or FSA.