How To Use HSA for Cryotherapy: Eligible & Tips for 2024
January 31, 2024
Cryotherapy is a potentially lifesaving tool that can effectively treat serious medical conditions without the need for major surgery. It’s a valuable alternative to more invasive procedures and likely to be equally as effective. If you’re interested in pursuing cryotherapy as a treatment for your condition, here’s what you should know about utilizing HSA funds to pay for your treatment.
How Does an HSA Work?
A health savings account (HSA) is a savings account specifically for storing pre-tax money to be used for eligible medical expenses. Unlike an FSA (flexible spending account) that is offered through an employer, anyone with a high deductible insurance plan can open and manage an HSA fully independently.
You can earmark a specific amount of your employment income or small business income by placing it into an HSA account before taxes are deducted. As long as you use your HSA funds for eligible medical purchases, you’ll never have to pay taxes on the money you’ve set aside for healthcare purposes.
What Does an HSA Cover?
HSA funds can be used to pay for a large number of qualified medical expenses, including co-pays for medically necessary treatment, doctor’s appointments, and prescriptions. HSA funds can also be used to cover a wide variety of over-the-counter medicine and first aid purchases.
Almost any over-the-counter medicine with a pharmaceutical active ingredient, from pain relievers to topical ointments, is covered by HSA funds. You can also purchase first aid and preventive supplies like bandages, sunblock, and hand sanitizer.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive or non-invasive alternative to surgery that utilizes extreme cold to remove dangerous or diseased tissue and cells. Freezing dangerous cells at very low temperatures rapidly kills them, preventing them from replicating or doing harm throughout your body.
Cryotherapy can also dramatically reduce inflammation that causes muscle pain or soreness in injured or overused muscles. Athletes and people with chronic pain often find relief from full-body cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy is a highly effective medical tool that has seen a surge in popularity among patients and healthcare providers due to its minimal downtime and the minimal discomfort caused to patients. The treatment has been successfully used to treat certain types of cancers that don’t reside deep within the viscera.
Healthcare providers use cryotherapy to treat many forms of skin cancer, bone cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer. It can also be used for conditions of lesser severity, like skin warts or muscular injuries.
How Does Cryotherapy Work?
Cryotherapy typically utilizes carefully applied liquid nitrogen to freeze problematic tissue. The tissue will then blister up and die away. The body’s immune system will naturally purge itself of the damaged tissue and replace it with new, healthy tissue. The process takes several weeks, and the area usually heals well with proper aftercare.
Conditions that exist closer to the surface of the skin are treated by direct contact with a cryotherapy device. Whole-body cryotherapy for muscle recovery is performed in a cryotherapy chamber, where a patient sits for a timed session in a supercooled airtight device similar to a freezer.
Conditions within the body are treated by making a small incision to insert a device called a cryoprobe to target the affected area.
Cryotherapy is usually an outpatient procedure, and patients are able to go home immediately after their treatment. In cases where cryotherapy treatment needs to be applied directly to an internal organ, treatment may be performed under general anesthesia for the patient’s safety and comfort.
Who Can Use Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a medical procedure only utilized for cases where a patient has a diagnosis for a condition that can be successfully treated with rapid cooling. Doctors often recommend cryotherapy for cases still in their early stages where minimally invasive intervention can be sufficient enough to treat or cure specific conditions. It wouldn’t cure something like a torn muscle, which may require internal sutures.
If you’re interested in cryotherapy, speak to your doctor about your eligibility. If your healthcare provider believes that cryotherapy will be sufficient to address the underlying issue, you may be able to forego other treatments and utilize cryotherapy instead.
Is Cryotherapy HSA Eligible?
Cryotherapy is considered a necessary medical treatment in many circumstances. Cryotherapy may be covered by health insurance if the need for treatment is life-saving. Cryotherapy is less likely to be covered by insurance for things like muscle recovery. If cryotherapy isn’t covered or if the co-pay is significant, you’re permitted to use HSA funds as payment.
What About Cryotherapy Facials or Cosmetic Treatments?
Cryotherapy can be used off-label as a facial rejuvenating treatment or a body sculpting treatment. Since these treatments are exclusively cosmetic, there is never a medical validation for receiving them. You cannot use your HSA to pay for cosmetic procedures, and a doctor cannot issue a Letter of Medical Necessity for a treatment that is exclusively cosmetic in nature.
How To Use HSA for Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy isn’t considered an elective or cosmetic procedure when used to treat a medical condition — you need to be formally diagnosed by a healthcare provider with a condition that can be treated with cryotherapy in order to proceed (i.e., muscular injury or sports injury).
Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of cryotherapy because the insurance industry still considers cryotherapy to be a form of alternative medicine. HSA guidelines don’t agree with most insurance companies. HSA rules recognize cryotherapy as a valid form of medicine, and HSA holders are allowed to use their HSA funds to pay for cryotherapy.
Do You Need a Letter of Medical Necessity for Cryotherapy?
The treatment protocol and requirements for cryotherapy are self-evident because patients need a valid diagnosis to receive medical cryotherapy treatment. HSA rules don’t require patients to receive a Letter of Medical before using HSA funds to pay for cryotherapy. You can proceed as you would with any other medical appointment or HSA-approved purchase.
How To Pay for Cryotherapy With HSA
It’s very common for people to pay for cryotherapy treatment with their HSA since insurance rarely covers the treatment while it’s readily available through HSA. Many cryotherapy professionals offer HSA as a direct form of payment for the procedure and accept HSA-linked debit cards.
If your cryotherapy provider doesn’t accept HSA as a form of payment or if your HSA doesn’t offer you a debit card for direct payments, you can utilize reimbursement. Most cryotherapy treatments require several short sessions scheduled over a period of weeks or months. You can reimburse yourself after each treatment or wait until you’ve completed your entire course of treatment for reimbursement.
It’s crucial to save your treatment receipts or invoices for reimbursement purposes. Your receipts demonstrate that withdrawals from your HSA accounts were used for eligible purchases. If you lose your receipts or cannot otherwise prove that the full amount of your reimbursement withdrawal was used for the cost of treatment, you may have to pay a tax penalty.
Are There Other Ways To Utilize Cold Therapy?
Cryotherapy chambers may not be the most convenient choice for people who want to experience the benefits of cold therapy. Alternatives like cold plunge tubs can provide quick anti-inflammatory, metabolism-stimulating, endorphin-inducing benefits at home.
Cold plunges target your whole body to provide benefits and relief, rather than the isolated area targeted by a cryotherapy wand or probe.
Cold plunges can be purchased with HSA funds if you obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity from a healthcare provider who believes that a cold plunge would have significant therapeutic value for you. If you have a medical condition that could be improved through regular use of a cold plunge, your doctor can provide you with a letter.
Truemed has a simple process for obtaining a Letter of Medical Necessity quickly and affordably. Our quick eligibility survey will determine if you’re eligible for a cold plunge through your HSA. If you’re eligible, an easy HSA-covered evaluation will help you get the Letter of Medical Necessity you need to buy a cold plunge.
You can shop for cold plunges through a Truemed integrated retailer for direct HSA payment. Just select “Pay with Truemed” at checkout to use your HSA debit card for your purchase.
Cryotherapy Is Healthcare
As long as you are receiving cryotherapy for healthcare purposes (rather than cosmetic purposes), it will always be covered by your HSA. As cryotherapy’s effectiveness leads it to become a mainstay among treatment providers, it’s likely that more insurance companies will see cryotherapy as a valid medical expense and leave only the co-pay for policyholders.
If you’re interested in the general benefits of cold therapy and your doctor feels that a cold plunge might be a valuable therapeutic tool for you, you can request a Letter of Medical Necessity and purchase a home cold plunge through Truemed. We make it easy to prioritize your wellness.