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Posted on October 6, 2015
by matt

How To Save Money On Your Massage by Licensed Massage Therapist Marlene Mayman

It open enrollment for many people health insurance and other health care coverage. If this includes you, now is the time to consider how you can get your massage therapy covered.

There are numerous possible ways to lessen your cost at Frederick Massage Therapy (FMT), described below.

New Client Discount

FMT currently offers a 10% off coupon for  massage for first time clients.  Please print the following coupon and bring it with you. Coupon must be presented at time of purchase to receive discount.

10% OFF for New Clients!

Save 10% on your first massage at Frederick Massage Therapy.

TERMS: First time clients only. One per person. Must present printed coupon at time of purchase.Massage must be received at the FMT office. Coupon forfeit if scheduled appointment is not kept and 24-hour cancellation notice was not given. No cash value. May not be combined with gift certificates or other offers. Use of this coupon and services by Frederick Massage Therapy constitutes agreement with our policies, see web site for details.

Health Insurance

Do you take my health insurance?

At this time, Frederick Massage Therapy does not take insurance (process claims). You will need to review your current health care coverage (see below) to learn whether you can request reimbursement for massage therapy services. If youre in luck and you have massage coverage, keep reading for info on getting a massage prescription from your doctor.

If massage isn’t covered, when you are renewing your health insurance coverage consider other options, plans and insurance companies that may reimburse therapeutic massage.

Need a detailed receipt for your massage services to submit to your insurance company? Let me know and I will provide one with the proper CPT codes, my NPI number and other pertinent information. If you were in an accident and are working with a lawyer, I can also provide notes on your massage sessions as needed.

Please come prepared to pay for your appointment with cash, check, credit card or gift certificate (when applicable).

Does my health insurance cover massage?

Unfortunately, I am not qualified to answer this  question. Please check with your insurance company or HR department for your plans coverage and terms. Sometimes massage is only covered if it is performed as part of a physical therapy session and not by a massage therapist (go figure!), so ask about that too.

Getting a doctors prescription for massage

If massage is covered, the next thing you will need is a doctors prescription for massage therapy. This prescription must come from your health professional, as long as s/he is a medical doctor (MD), chiropractor (DC), naturopath (ND), dentist (DD, DMD, DDS) or osteopath (DO), among numerous others, including psychiatrists. As long as your health care practitioner can legally diagnose, prescribe treatments or medications, and have a  in their title, you are good to go. (Your massage therapist cannot write a prescription because s/he cannot legally diagnose and is not a doctor.)

Your doctor may not know how massage can benefit you. Before making an appointment,  look up some published research, cases studies or other credible information about how massage has helped people with a similar health issue. Also helpful to know ahead of time: where you plan to get your massage therapy. A massage clinic or massage therapist that specializes in medical massage techniques, or is affiliated with a doctor (such as a chiropractor), will look better than selecting a day spa.

If you are already seeing a doctor about your condition, call and ask for a massage prescription. If you haven’t seen a doctor, you will need to get examined and then request the prescription. Your doctor is likely to offer medication before massage, so you may have to bring massage up directly. Be ready to share your research on how massage helps conditions like yours.

Your massage prescription will need the following information:

  1. Medical necessity: why you need massage therapy (example: to relieve back pain)
  2. Frequency: number of sessions per month (example: minimum of two sessions per month)
  3. Duration: length of treatment (example: 3,6,9,12 months)

Fax your prescription with a cover sheet for Frederick Massage Therapy to (301) 898-2529 or hand-carry the prescription to your appointment. Keep a copy of your prescription in a safe place that you can locate if needed.

If your insurance covers massage and your doctor won’t prescribe it, consider getting a second opinion.

If it’s helpful for your doctor:
How to Prescribe Medical Massage (A Guide for Physicians)
How to Work With a Licensed Massage Therapist (A Guide for Physicians)

Open enrollment, health insurance options and guidance

Some health insurance plans do not cover massage therapy, others do. During open enrollment, investigate your plan options and other plans available to you. Some employers or health insurance companies offer a complimentary and alternative medicine add-on to health insurance, so look into that too.

You can also speak with a health insurance broker to learn which plans with several insurance companies may be worth considering. Working with a professional can save you time and help steer you to a more optimal situation, hopefully both in coverage and cost.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs)
Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)
Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

Is massage therapy covered for my physical / mental health issue?

The IRS states, Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes. Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They do not include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.

For you, this means that if you are suffering from a specific physical health issue (such as pain or movement issues, etc.) or a mental health issue (such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, etc.), therapeutic massage may be covered under your benefits.

Wish you had access to a Health Savings Account but your employer doesn’t offer them? You can sign up for one  as an individual. See Insurance and HSAs below.

How to get approval for massage therapy

Set up an appointment with your medical doctor and let them know that you have HSA, FSA, MSA or HRA funds that you would like to use for massage therapy for treatment/prevention of your condition.

If your physician is not sure about the benefits of massage for your condition, research massage for your condition and share the information with your doctor (see box above).

If your physician agrees to write a prescription, they will need to provide three pieces of information:

  1. Medical necessity: why you need massage therapy (example: to relieve back pain)
  2. Frequency: number of sessions per month (example: minimum of two sessions per month)
  3. Duration: length of treatment (example: 3,6,9,12 months)

Be certain that you are getting the correct prescription/documentation in order to use your benefit funds. For example, sometimes a doctor must provide a Letter of Medical Necessity on a standardized form or on the doctors letterhead. Check with your employer, the appropriate department is usually human resources since they administer benefits for employees. If they can’t answer your question, they should be able to direct you to the administrator of your benefit plan. Be sure that massage (with prescription) will be covered before you make your massage appointment, so that you are not responsible for paying out of pocket or taking a tax hit.

Once you have the prescription you can set up an appointment for massage. Keep the prescription in a safe place in case you need to provide documentation. Bring your HSA, FSA, MSA or HRA card with you to your appointment. (NOTE: You cannot put tips to the therapist on your benefit card.)

Open enrollment and allotments

During the fourth quarter is when many people designate how much money to set aside in their HSA, FSA, MSA or HRA fund for the next year. In your financial planning, don’t forget to include the cost of your massage visits in the total amount. You also can set aside money for massage therapy for a spouse or child, if he or she has a qualifying medical condition.

Where to Get Advice

Navigating health care coverage and medical savings accounts can be daunting. Speak to your HR department or health insurance company to learn more about your current options. If you want to consider other insurance companies or start your own HSA, I offer a recommendation for independent advice below.

Also be sure to talk to your tax advisor about how to avoid tax repercussions as a result of your health insurance or medical savings accounts.

Both of the referrals below are colleagues of mine, who I trust to give you excellent, honest guidance.

IRS rules

Here are links to relevant IRS publications:
HSA, FSA, MSA and HRAs
IRS Medical Expenses

Insurance and HSAs

If you are looking for advice on whether your insurance plan is best for you, want a plan that covers therapeutic massage, or would like to start your own Health Savings Account, please consider Matt Brooks at BMC Insurance (a broker that can steer you to the best option), 301-698-5425.

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