- Jana Wheeler
Is Massage Therapy a Medical Expense?
Massage therapists everywhere will agree that a regular massage is certainly great for your health and wellbeing, but can you claim a massage as a legitimate medical expense? Not surprisingly, the answer is, yet again: It depends.
If you have a flexible savings account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), it allows you save money tax-free from each pay check - and you might be able to use the funds to pay for massage. Definitely worth looking into, because if you don’t use your allocated FSA funds by the end of every year they go right back to your employer.
Massage therapy is one thing you may be able to use the funds for, as a medical massage is a ‘qualified medical expense’. The IRS also states that “medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental ailment.” So, if you’re getting a massage to relieve or help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression or for pain management, you can claim.
How to use those funds? You will want to check with your provider. Our office is set up to accept FSA and HSA debit cards, but if you don’t qualify you might have to pay that money back at tax time with some fees.
Some providers will just let you use the cards, no questions asked, for some you’ll have to have a written prescription from your healthcare provider. And some others just don’t consider massage therapy a medical expense, period.
You may also be able to deduct massages from your taxes if you are receiving the massage for a medical reason and have an official diagnosis (this will not work if you already used money from an FSA or HSA). Just keep the receipts (you can also ask for a more detailed invoice) and discuss the details with your medical provider and CPA.
How about insurance?
Unfortunately, most insurers in Alabama (if you live in a different state check with them) do not cover massage therapy. At our office we cannot file insurance, but we can offer to email you an invoice that you may be able to turn in for reimbursement.
It all depends on the insurance plan and carrier, and as with all insurance policies, there will be terms and restrictions. You can find out if your insurance covers massage therapy by taking a closer look at your health insurance policy or asking your agent. If it is covered, it will likely require a diagnosis and a prescription from a healthcare provider.