2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Saving a Bundle on Healthcare, Part 2

Click here for the Health Tip link.

If you use nutritional supplements and alternative therapies as part of your health care, you may finally be compelled to thank the Republicans for something you’ll like (that was not an easy sentence for me to write). It was during the Bush administration that the concept of Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) came into being.

The two most common MSAs are the Health Savings Account (HSA) and the Flexible Spending Account (FSA). The two are similar in that an employee is allowed to accumulate pre-tax dollars (deducted from her paycheck) in a special savings account that can be drawn on to cover medically related expenses not covered by her usual health insurance. The main difference is that money in an HSA can roll over and accumulate from year to year. In the event of death, it can be left to a beneficiary. If you lose your job, you keep your HSA and can use it to help with your COBRA expenses.

The FSA, on the other hand, has use-it-or-lose-it status. It’s re-set to zero annually. The upside is that your employer pre-funds your FSA at the beginning of each year, with you essentially re-paying the money out of every paycheck.

What I’ve discovered is that most people don’t bother to apply for their MSAs, maybe because they don’t understand them or don’t want any more deductions from their paycheck. But MSAs are a real boon to users of alternative therapies and nutritional supplements because both fulfill the requirement of being medical expenses not covered by regular health insurance.

Alternative therapies are literally anything from acupuncture to yoga. You can even apply your MSA to those portions of chiropractic care that your conventional insurance may not cover (like deductible and co-payments). All you need is a note from your primary care physician stating the diagnosis and that the treatment is medically necessary. Currently, you can pay for your therapies using a special debit card you’ll be given when you enroll in an MSA. Some employers haven’t instituted the debit card yet, so save your receipts to submit for reimbursement later.

Being reimbursed for your nutritional supplement purchases is the other real advantage of your MSA. In this situation, you need to have documentation from a physician that you are using each supplement to treat or prevent specific medical conditions. Since virtually every supplement in a health food store has been shown to either treat or prevent something, this is both easy and true. You generally only need this documentation in your file once a year.

To see a typical MSA letter documenting nutritional supplement use, click here. Save all documentation in the unlikely event of an IRS audit.

The WholeHealth Chicago Apothecary keeps a record of all your supplement purchases. Whenever you need a letter to submit for MSA reimbursement, simply call (773-296- 6700, ext. 2001) or send an email to apothecary@wholehealthchicago.com. Currently, we can only provide such letters for supplements purchased in our apothecary.

For more information on the concept of MSAs, which I’ve covered only briefly, check these links to the Wikipedia entries on Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts.

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***WholeHealth for Winter Digestion
Saturday December 1, 2018, 10:30am-12:30pm
An Integrative Workshop with Yoga Therapist Renee Zambo, Dietitian Olivia Wagner, and Occupational Therapist Valarie McConville
Fee: $75.00 (includes take home materials and snacks)

Do you suffer from a sluggish digestive system, constipation, and/or bloating? Does it feel like those symptoms get worse as we head toward the holidays and winter season?  Are you looking for ways to optimize your digestion?  

Join us for two valuable hours of digestive health and cleansing!

Space is limited and registration is required.
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***Healing Touch for Focus, Creativity, and Stress Management
Thursday, December 6, 2018, 5:45-7:30
Katie Oberlin, HTCP/I
Healing Touch Certified Practitioner/Instructor
Fee: $55.00 (includes take-home materials)

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed at the end of the year? Want to find a way to feel less scattered and more focused? In this workshop, you will learn how to use energy healing to feel more centered and grounded so you can bring more clarity and creativity to your life and work.

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**Winter Solstice Celebration: Drumming Circle and Shamanic Healing
Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 5:45-7:30pm
Katie OberlinHTCP/I
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Fee: $55.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2018, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration.

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