HSA/FSA

Hands-On Wellness: Can You Use Your HSA/FSA for a Massage?

Get a helping hand from your HSA/FSA for that much-needed massage

May 21, 2024
Sam O'Keefe Co-Founder and CEO of Flex
Sam O'Keefe
Co-founder & CEO of Flex
Flex - Can You Use HSA/FSA For Massage
Flex - Can You Use HSA/FSA For Massage

Overview

Overview

Overview

Sore back, achy neck, tired feet… you know the feeling after a long week. 

What's your go-to solution? If you’re like millions of Americans, it’s a massage. Once considered an indulgence, it is now widely recognized as an effective therapy for pain relief. 

Best yet, you can reduce the stress of paying for a massage by using your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Ready to go from tension to tranquility?

What We’ll Cover About Paying for a Massage With Your HSA/FSA

  • The health benefits of a massage

  • What is massage?

  • Different kinds of massage

  • The difference between stretching and a massage

  • How to use your HSA/FSA for a massage

  • Common prescriptions for “medical massage”

  • Reimbursement for home massage equipment

  • How Flex can help you use your HSA/FSA for a massage

The Health Benefits of a Massage

Beyond the pampering and relaxation, a good massage offers a range of health benefits from relieving chronic pain and improving circulation to reducing stress and promoting better sleep.

In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of massages, and about half of all adult Americans who receive a massage do so for medical or health reasons.

Who knew that pain relief could feel so good?

What is Massage, Anyway?

It’s kind of like one of those “if you have to ask” situations, but let’s define what we’re talking about.

Massage is a hands-on therapy that manipulates soft tissues, tendons and ligaments in order to reduce stiffness, improve circulation and flexibility, and decrease inflammation. 

Why do our muscles get so tight and sore in the first place? Various factors contribute to muscle stiffness, from physical overexertion and poor posture to stress and underlying medical conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. Sometimes, the best way to address the problem is through applied pressure. 

How does massage work?

Massage therapy uses techniques like kneading, friction, and stretching to target different layers of muscle and connective tissue.

By stimulating blood flow and releasing tension, massages can alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation. Plus, they trigger the body's natural healing mechanisms, fostering tissue repair and regeneration.

What are the different kinds of massage?

Massage therapy isn't one-size-fits-all; it's a diverse field with a range of techniques for different needs and preferences. Here are some of the most common types of massages:

  • Swedish massage: A classic relaxation massage characterized by long, flowing strokes, kneading, and gentle tapping. It's ideal for reducing stress, improving circulation, and promoting overall relaxation.

  • Deep tissue massage: This therapeutic technique targets deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to alleviate chronic pain and tension. It involves firmer pressure and focused strokes to release stubborn knots and restore mobility.

  • Trigger point therapy: By identifying and applying pressure to specific trigger points, trigger point therapy aims to relieve localized pain and discomfort. It's effective for addressing muscle knots, tension headaches, and referred pain patterns.

  • Sports massage: Geared towards athletes and active individuals, sports massage focuses on enhancing performance, preventing injuries, and facilitating recovery. It incorporates stretching, compression, and deep tissue techniques to optimize muscle function and flexibility.

  • Hot stone massage: Practiced by Hindus 5,000 years ago, warm, smooth stones are placed on key points of the body to promote relaxation and alleviate muscle tension. The heat helps to loosen tight muscles and induce a deeper sense of calm and well-being.

  • Thai massage: Rooted in ancient Thai medicine and yoga traditions dating from Buddha’s lifetime, Thai massage combines passive stretching, acupressure, and rhythmic compressions.

What's the difference between stretching and a massage?

While both stretching and massage can help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility, they work in distinct ways and provide different outcomes. Stretching primarily involves elongating muscles to increase range of motion and prevent stiffness, whereas massage directly manipulates soft tissues and myofascia to release knots, break up scar tissue, and improve circulation.

Can You Use Your HSA/FSA for a Massage?

Yes, you can use your HSA or FSA to pay for a massage, but it requires an important step.

Massage is not considered a qualified medical expense by the IRS — these are items or services that are used “primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental disability or illness” — because they have a dual purpose as a general wellness tool, i.e., for relaxation.

As such, you’ll need to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) from your healthcare provider which stipulates why massage therapy is medically necessary to address a specific health condition. 

When might a doctor prescribe a massage?

Doctors may recommend massage therapy for various medical conditions, such as chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, or post-injury rehabilitation. Additionally, massage can complement traditional treatments for issues like migraine headaches, anxiety, and insomnia.

What are common prescriptions for “medical massage”?

Medical massage can address a wide spectrum of issues. Here are some common conditions it is prescribed for:

  • Chronic Pain: Whether stemming from musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis or conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic pain can significantly impact one's quality of life. Medical massage can help manage pain by reducing muscle tension, improving circulation, and triggering the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. You may want to consider pairing this with another HSA/FSA-approved intervention, glucosamine, a supplement that is shown to ease joint pain.

  • Muscle strain or injury: Acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, or overuse injuries, can benefit from targeted massage therapy to reduce inflammation, promote tissue repair, and restore mobility. By addressing muscular imbalances and promoting proper healing, medical massage can expedite recovery and prevent long-term complications.

  • Post-surgical rehabilitation: Following surgery, rehabilitation is crucial for restoring function and mobility. Medical massage techniques, such as lymphatic drainage and scar tissue mobilization, can aid in post-surgical recovery by reducing swelling, improving circulation, and promoting tissue regeneration.

  • Stress-related disorders: Chronic stress can manifest in physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. Medical massage offers a holistic approach to stress management by promoting relaxation, reducing cortisol levels, and enhancing overall well-being.

  • Neurological conditions: Individuals with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or stroke may experience muscle spasticity, weakness, or impaired mobility. Medical massage can complement traditional therapies by improving muscle tone, enhancing range of motion, and facilitating neuromuscular re-education.

  • Digestive disorders: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) can cause abdominal discomfort and disrupt digestion. Abdominal massage techniques may help alleviate symptoms by reducing tension in the abdominal muscles, promoting bowel regularity, and easing discomfort.

Can I use my HSA or FSA for a prenatal massage?

Expectant mothers, you may be able to use your HSA for pregnancy massages with a Letter of Medical Necessity.

Prenatal massage offers many benefits, from alleviating back pain and swelling to reducing stress and promoting better sleep. Just ensure that your massage therapist is trained in prenatal techniques and consult with your healthcare provider beforehand.

Can HSA be used for lymphatic drainage massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage, which helps circulate lymphatic fluid and reduce swelling, may be eligible for HSA or FSA reimbursement with a Letter of Medical Necessity. Whether it's post-surgery recovery or managing lymphedema, this gentle therapy can provide significant relief and support overall wellness.

How To Use Your FSA or HSA for Massages

Now that we’ve gone over why you might want massage therapy, let's navigate using your FSA or HSA to pay for it.

The process of getting a Letter of Medical Necessity and reimbursement

Obtaining a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) is a relatively straightforward process if tedious and time-consuming.

Essentially, a LOMN is a doctor’s note that stipulates why a product or service is medically necessary to address a specific health condition that you have been diagnosed for. This the mechanism by which the IRS allows for individual doctors to make determinations on behalf of patients, to qualify certain purchases for HSA or FSA spending. 

To get a LOMN, you’ll need to schedule time with your provider to discuss the issue ahead of purchase. Next, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the massage, then submit for reimbursement from your HSA or FSA afterward.

Can You Use your HSA or FSA for Home Massage Equipment?

Massage therapy isn't limited to sessions with a professional, you may also be able to use your HSA or FSA for massage tools and equipment available for at-home use. Here are some examples:

  • Massage Chairs: While they come with a big initial investment, massage chairs can provide luxurious relaxation and therapeutic benefits right in the comfort of your home. Massage chairs may qualify for reimbursement if prescribed for medical purposes, but you will need to provide a diagnosis from a doctor and an explanation for why a massage chair is specifically needed.

  • Massage guns and other handheld massagers: Portable and versatile, handheld massagers offer targeted relief for muscle tension and soreness. Whether it's percussive massage guns, vibrating massage wands, or shiatsu-style handheld devices, these tools can address specific areas of discomfort and promote relaxation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes; it depends on the brand and function of the devices.

  • Neck and back massagers: Designed to mimic the hands-on techniques of a massage therapist, neck and back massagers offer targeted relief for tension and discomfort in the cervical and lumbar regions. These devices may utilize heat therapy, vibration, or kneading motions to soothe sore muscles and improve circulation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes; like handheld massagers, it depends on the brand and function of the devices.

  • Foot massagers: After a long day on your feet, nothing beats the soothing sensation of a foot massage. Foot massagers come in various styles, including foot baths with massage jets, vibrating foot pads, and shiatsu-style foot massagers. These devices can help alleviate foot pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes in order to qualify for reimbursement.

Other pain relief items, such as TENS units, may also qualify for reimbursement. Inquire with your healthcare provider about whether you’re eligible for the specific massage gadget you want.

Are foam rollers or other fitness equipment covered?

A staple in fitness and rehabilitation, foam rollers and other kinds of fitness equipment are used to perform self-myofascial release, a form of self-massage that targets trigger points and adhesions in the muscles and connective tissue.

Fitness equipment like foam rollers or resistance bands may qualify as eligible expenses if prescribed for medical purposes, such as rehabilitation or pain management. Again, consulting with your healthcare provider and reviewing your plan's guidelines is key to maximizing your benefits.

Partner Spotlight: MedMassager, Professional-Level Massages Right at Your Fingertips

When it comes to home massages, finding the right tools can make all the difference. Enter MedMassager, a leading provider of therapeutic massage products designed to elevate your self-care routine and enhance your overall health. 

Created with input from healthcare professionals, MedMassager’s range of high-end massage products — including foot massagers, body massagers, and their portable mini massage gun — are a must-have in your home health kit. And the best part? They accept HSA/FSA!

How Flex Can Help You Use Your FSA or HSA for Massages

As we noted above, to use your HSA or FSA to get a massage or buy massage equipment, you will first need to get a Letter of Medical Necessity.

However, if an online retailer works with us here at Flex, like MedMassager, obtaining a LOMN is a simple part of the checkout flow. 

Here’s how it works:

Select the "checkout with Flex" option on the payment page. Complete the following steps to pay with your HSA or FSA debit card:

  1. Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  2. If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  3. Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. 

No need to wait for a LOMN from your doctor or submit for reimbursement. Paying for pain relief shouldn’t have to be a pain!

Your Journey of Savings and Satisfaction Awaits

Considering that 80% of physician visits are for pain, a trip to a masseuse or an investment in at-home massage equipment is much more than a luxury, it’s an invaluable therapy to help you address your health on your own terms.

By harnessing your HSA or FSA, you can be proactive towards your own well-being. Now doesn’t that feel good?

Sore back, achy neck, tired feet… you know the feeling after a long week. 

What's your go-to solution? If you’re like millions of Americans, it’s a massage. Once considered an indulgence, it is now widely recognized as an effective therapy for pain relief. 

Best yet, you can reduce the stress of paying for a massage by using your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Ready to go from tension to tranquility?

What We’ll Cover About Paying for a Massage With Your HSA/FSA

  • The health benefits of a massage

  • What is massage?

  • Different kinds of massage

  • The difference between stretching and a massage

  • How to use your HSA/FSA for a massage

  • Common prescriptions for “medical massage”

  • Reimbursement for home massage equipment

  • How Flex can help you use your HSA/FSA for a massage

The Health Benefits of a Massage

Beyond the pampering and relaxation, a good massage offers a range of health benefits from relieving chronic pain and improving circulation to reducing stress and promoting better sleep.

In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of massages, and about half of all adult Americans who receive a massage do so for medical or health reasons.

Who knew that pain relief could feel so good?

What is Massage, Anyway?

It’s kind of like one of those “if you have to ask” situations, but let’s define what we’re talking about.

Massage is a hands-on therapy that manipulates soft tissues, tendons and ligaments in order to reduce stiffness, improve circulation and flexibility, and decrease inflammation. 

Why do our muscles get so tight and sore in the first place? Various factors contribute to muscle stiffness, from physical overexertion and poor posture to stress and underlying medical conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. Sometimes, the best way to address the problem is through applied pressure. 

How does massage work?

Massage therapy uses techniques like kneading, friction, and stretching to target different layers of muscle and connective tissue.

By stimulating blood flow and releasing tension, massages can alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation. Plus, they trigger the body's natural healing mechanisms, fostering tissue repair and regeneration.

What are the different kinds of massage?

Massage therapy isn't one-size-fits-all; it's a diverse field with a range of techniques for different needs and preferences. Here are some of the most common types of massages:

  • Swedish massage: A classic relaxation massage characterized by long, flowing strokes, kneading, and gentle tapping. It's ideal for reducing stress, improving circulation, and promoting overall relaxation.

  • Deep tissue massage: This therapeutic technique targets deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to alleviate chronic pain and tension. It involves firmer pressure and focused strokes to release stubborn knots and restore mobility.

  • Trigger point therapy: By identifying and applying pressure to specific trigger points, trigger point therapy aims to relieve localized pain and discomfort. It's effective for addressing muscle knots, tension headaches, and referred pain patterns.

  • Sports massage: Geared towards athletes and active individuals, sports massage focuses on enhancing performance, preventing injuries, and facilitating recovery. It incorporates stretching, compression, and deep tissue techniques to optimize muscle function and flexibility.

  • Hot stone massage: Practiced by Hindus 5,000 years ago, warm, smooth stones are placed on key points of the body to promote relaxation and alleviate muscle tension. The heat helps to loosen tight muscles and induce a deeper sense of calm and well-being.

  • Thai massage: Rooted in ancient Thai medicine and yoga traditions dating from Buddha’s lifetime, Thai massage combines passive stretching, acupressure, and rhythmic compressions.

What's the difference between stretching and a massage?

While both stretching and massage can help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility, they work in distinct ways and provide different outcomes. Stretching primarily involves elongating muscles to increase range of motion and prevent stiffness, whereas massage directly manipulates soft tissues and myofascia to release knots, break up scar tissue, and improve circulation.

Can You Use Your HSA/FSA for a Massage?

Yes, you can use your HSA or FSA to pay for a massage, but it requires an important step.

Massage is not considered a qualified medical expense by the IRS — these are items or services that are used “primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental disability or illness” — because they have a dual purpose as a general wellness tool, i.e., for relaxation.

As such, you’ll need to obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) from your healthcare provider which stipulates why massage therapy is medically necessary to address a specific health condition. 

When might a doctor prescribe a massage?

Doctors may recommend massage therapy for various medical conditions, such as chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, or post-injury rehabilitation. Additionally, massage can complement traditional treatments for issues like migraine headaches, anxiety, and insomnia.

What are common prescriptions for “medical massage”?

Medical massage can address a wide spectrum of issues. Here are some common conditions it is prescribed for:

  • Chronic Pain: Whether stemming from musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis or conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic pain can significantly impact one's quality of life. Medical massage can help manage pain by reducing muscle tension, improving circulation, and triggering the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. You may want to consider pairing this with another HSA/FSA-approved intervention, glucosamine, a supplement that is shown to ease joint pain.

  • Muscle strain or injury: Acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, or overuse injuries, can benefit from targeted massage therapy to reduce inflammation, promote tissue repair, and restore mobility. By addressing muscular imbalances and promoting proper healing, medical massage can expedite recovery and prevent long-term complications.

  • Post-surgical rehabilitation: Following surgery, rehabilitation is crucial for restoring function and mobility. Medical massage techniques, such as lymphatic drainage and scar tissue mobilization, can aid in post-surgical recovery by reducing swelling, improving circulation, and promoting tissue regeneration.

  • Stress-related disorders: Chronic stress can manifest in physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. Medical massage offers a holistic approach to stress management by promoting relaxation, reducing cortisol levels, and enhancing overall well-being.

  • Neurological conditions: Individuals with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or stroke may experience muscle spasticity, weakness, or impaired mobility. Medical massage can complement traditional therapies by improving muscle tone, enhancing range of motion, and facilitating neuromuscular re-education.

  • Digestive disorders: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) can cause abdominal discomfort and disrupt digestion. Abdominal massage techniques may help alleviate symptoms by reducing tension in the abdominal muscles, promoting bowel regularity, and easing discomfort.

Can I use my HSA or FSA for a prenatal massage?

Expectant mothers, you may be able to use your HSA for pregnancy massages with a Letter of Medical Necessity.

Prenatal massage offers many benefits, from alleviating back pain and swelling to reducing stress and promoting better sleep. Just ensure that your massage therapist is trained in prenatal techniques and consult with your healthcare provider beforehand.

Can HSA be used for lymphatic drainage massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage, which helps circulate lymphatic fluid and reduce swelling, may be eligible for HSA or FSA reimbursement with a Letter of Medical Necessity. Whether it's post-surgery recovery or managing lymphedema, this gentle therapy can provide significant relief and support overall wellness.

How To Use Your FSA or HSA for Massages

Now that we’ve gone over why you might want massage therapy, let's navigate using your FSA or HSA to pay for it.

The process of getting a Letter of Medical Necessity and reimbursement

Obtaining a Letter of Medical Necessity (LOMN) is a relatively straightforward process if tedious and time-consuming.

Essentially, a LOMN is a doctor’s note that stipulates why a product or service is medically necessary to address a specific health condition that you have been diagnosed for. This the mechanism by which the IRS allows for individual doctors to make determinations on behalf of patients, to qualify certain purchases for HSA or FSA spending. 

To get a LOMN, you’ll need to schedule time with your provider to discuss the issue ahead of purchase. Next, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the massage, then submit for reimbursement from your HSA or FSA afterward.

Can You Use your HSA or FSA for Home Massage Equipment?

Massage therapy isn't limited to sessions with a professional, you may also be able to use your HSA or FSA for massage tools and equipment available for at-home use. Here are some examples:

  • Massage Chairs: While they come with a big initial investment, massage chairs can provide luxurious relaxation and therapeutic benefits right in the comfort of your home. Massage chairs may qualify for reimbursement if prescribed for medical purposes, but you will need to provide a diagnosis from a doctor and an explanation for why a massage chair is specifically needed.

  • Massage guns and other handheld massagers: Portable and versatile, handheld massagers offer targeted relief for muscle tension and soreness. Whether it's percussive massage guns, vibrating massage wands, or shiatsu-style handheld devices, these tools can address specific areas of discomfort and promote relaxation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes; it depends on the brand and function of the devices.

  • Neck and back massagers: Designed to mimic the hands-on techniques of a massage therapist, neck and back massagers offer targeted relief for tension and discomfort in the cervical and lumbar regions. These devices may utilize heat therapy, vibration, or kneading motions to soothe sore muscles and improve circulation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes; like handheld massagers, it depends on the brand and function of the devices.

  • Foot massagers: After a long day on your feet, nothing beats the soothing sensation of a foot massage. Foot massagers come in various styles, including foot baths with massage jets, vibrating foot pads, and shiatsu-style foot massagers. These devices can help alleviate foot pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. Some are HSA/FSA eligible while others need to be prescribed for medical purposes in order to qualify for reimbursement.

Other pain relief items, such as TENS units, may also qualify for reimbursement. Inquire with your healthcare provider about whether you’re eligible for the specific massage gadget you want.

Are foam rollers or other fitness equipment covered?

A staple in fitness and rehabilitation, foam rollers and other kinds of fitness equipment are used to perform self-myofascial release, a form of self-massage that targets trigger points and adhesions in the muscles and connective tissue.

Fitness equipment like foam rollers or resistance bands may qualify as eligible expenses if prescribed for medical purposes, such as rehabilitation or pain management. Again, consulting with your healthcare provider and reviewing your plan's guidelines is key to maximizing your benefits.

Partner Spotlight: MedMassager, Professional-Level Massages Right at Your Fingertips

When it comes to home massages, finding the right tools can make all the difference. Enter MedMassager, a leading provider of therapeutic massage products designed to elevate your self-care routine and enhance your overall health. 

Created with input from healthcare professionals, MedMassager’s range of high-end massage products — including foot massagers, body massagers, and their portable mini massage gun — are a must-have in your home health kit. And the best part? They accept HSA/FSA!

How Flex Can Help You Use Your FSA or HSA for Massages

As we noted above, to use your HSA or FSA to get a massage or buy massage equipment, you will first need to get a Letter of Medical Necessity.

However, if an online retailer works with us here at Flex, like MedMassager, obtaining a LOMN is a simple part of the checkout flow. 

Here’s how it works:

Select the "checkout with Flex" option on the payment page. Complete the following steps to pay with your HSA or FSA debit card:

  1. Fill out a short eligibility form, sharing relevant information with Flex’s medical team. 

  2. If you qualify, Flex sends the LOMN to you via email.

  3. Then, simply enter your HSA or FSA card details and complete the purchase. 

No need to wait for a LOMN from your doctor or submit for reimbursement. Paying for pain relief shouldn’t have to be a pain!

Your Journey of Savings and Satisfaction Awaits

Considering that 80% of physician visits are for pain, a trip to a masseuse or an investment in at-home massage equipment is much more than a luxury, it’s an invaluable therapy to help you address your health on your own terms.

By harnessing your HSA or FSA, you can be proactive towards your own well-being. Now doesn’t that feel good?

Flex is a modern marketplace for consumers to discover and purchase HSA/FSA eligible products. From fitness and nutrition, to sleep and mental health, Flex takes a holistic view of healthcare and enables consumers to use their pre-tax money to do the same.