Online therapy platforms are becoming more acceptable mediums for mental health support, inspiring insurance companies, businesses, and managers of tax-free accounts to cover the costs of online therapy.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) holds tax-free income to use towards medical and mental health expenses. Likewise, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is also tax-free and is used to cover the same costs as an HSA, but it has more restrictions than an HSA.
In this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of HSA’s and FSA’s, their similarities, their differences, which online therapy platforms accept these forms of payment, and discuss Betterhelp as one of several online therapy platforms that accepts payment from HSA’s and FSA’s.
What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?
An HSA allows an employee (including self-employed business owners) to set aside pre-taxed income to pay for medical and mental health expenses. In order to qualify for an HSA, one must have a high deductible health insurance plan. For an individual, the deductible must be at least $1,500/year, and for a family, the deductible must be at least $3,000/year in order to qualify as a high deductible health insurance plan.
Typically, a debit card is issued through the HSA account to use for payment. HSA’s can not be used to cover insurance premiums, and are intended to cover the cost of health care, mental health care, co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions. Employees own these accounts and can take the money with them if they leave their employer.
The maximum contribution for an individual HSA plan is $3,850, while the maximum contribution for a family HSA plan is $7,750. Those over age 55 can contribute $1,000 more to either an individual plan or a family plan.
The main benefits of an HSA is tax savings and the ability to have others contribute to the account. Money in the account can also rollover to the following year.
What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Similar to an HSA, an FSA is also tax-free and intended to cover out-of-pocket health care costs. One advantage of an FSA is, it can be used with low-deductible insurance plans. FSA’s are intended to cover health care expenses and cannot be used to pay premiums.
FSA’s have a much lower maximum contribution of $2,850 per year. These accounts are employer owned and those who are self-employed do not qualify for FSA’s. Employers can contribute to this fund, but unused funds belong to the employer.
Typically, $570 is allowed to rollover to the following year’s account, or employees are given two months extension beyond the work year to use their funds. One disadvantage is, employees must submit a claim with their employer to receive reimbursement for expenses vs using a debit card for expenses with an HSA.
Comparison Table of HSA and FSA
HSA (Health Savings Account) and FSA (Flexible Spending Account) are both types of tax-advantaged accounts that can be used to pay for healthcare expenses. However, there are some key differences between the two.
An HSA is a tax-advantaged account that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket costs. HSA funds roll over from year to year, and account holders can invest the money in the account to potentially earn tax-free investment income. To be eligible for an HSA, an individual must be covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
An FSA is also a tax-advantaged account that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket costs. However, unlike an HSA, FSA funds do not roll over from year to year. Any unused funds in an FSA are typically forfeited at the end of the plan year. Additionally, FSA funds cannot be invested for tax-free investment income.
In summary, an HSA provides more flexibility and potentially more tax benefits than an FSA, but requires the individual to be covered by a HDHP. An FSA provides a simpler and more immediate tax benefit, but does not offer the same level of flexibility or potential investment income as an HSA.
|Employee Owned||Maximum Contribution||Rollover Amount||Self-Employed Qualified||Must Have High Deductible Insurance||Tax Free|
|Up to maximum contribution||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Which Online Therapy Platforms Accept HSA’s and FSA’s?
The following online therapy platforms state they do accept payment from HSA and FSA accounts. Always check with your account manager to confirm coverage.
Betterhelp is an online therapy platform where clients seeking mental health treatment can get support online from their licensed therapist, psychologist or counselor, on a secure and confidential format. Betterhelp requires clients to pay directly, as they do not accept insurance. In most cases, HSA and FSA can be used for payment.
Betterhelp’s mission statement is, “making therapy accessible, affordable, and convenient – so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime and anywhere.” Betterhelp offers plans as low as $60-$90/week billed monthly, which may be comparable to some co-pay requirements of insurance companies.
There are four different ways in which to engage in therapy using Betterhelp.
- You can exchange messages in a secure room 24/7 and the therapist will respond as soon as possible.
- You can chat live with your therapist at a scheduled time, exchanging messages in real time.
- You may talk with your therapist over the phone for sessions at a scheduled time.
- You may have a video conference session live with your therapist at a scheduled time.
Betterhelp addresses many mental health issues including anxiety, depression, relationship struggles and more. Betterhelp would not be a good fit for you if:
- You are a minor
- You require court ordered therapy
- You are seeking medication management and prescription services
- You require an official diagnosis
- You are experiencing an urgent crisis or an emergency
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the therapists at Betterhelp?
Betterhelp therapists are all required to have either a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate degree in the mental health sciences.
All therapists are trained, licensed, experienced, and certified by their respective state’s professional board. All therapists must have at least three years and 1,000 hours of clinical experience.
Therapists include psychologists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Licensed Professional Counselors.
How are therapists verified on Betterhelp?
Providers must submit their licensure documentation and valid identification. Potential providers must also complete a case study exam as well as a video interview. Only 25% of applicants who apply are accepted by Betterhelp. Betterhelp checks the therapist’s licensure by contacting their respective state licensing board and verifying status. The therapist’s license information is available to clients so that clients can perform their own due diligence too.
Can I choose my own therapist?
Betterhelp pairs you with a therapist based on your objectives, preferences, and the types of issues you would like to address in counseling. If you are not satisfied with your therapist and do not feel they are a good fit for your needs, you can request a different therapist at no additional cost.
How secure is Betterhelp’s platform in regards to interactions between clients and their therapist?
“All of the databases are encrypted and scrambled so they essentially become useless in the unlikely event that they are stolen or compromised.” – Betterhelp
Mental health services are a vital part of overall health care. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies such as insurance providers and big business employers, value the positive impact mental health support provides. Due to the de-stigmatization of mental health services and the advent of technology, mental health has never been more accessible than it is now.
Though many insurance providers cover online therapy and many online therapy platforms accept insurance payments, paying for services with your HSA or FSA is another great option to cover costs. Reach out to your account manager and insurance provider to verify coverage, and embark on your mental health journey today.
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