Here’s how you could pay for your vitamins tax-free

Rarely do we as consumers have a chance to take concrete action to better our lives, especially when it comes to health care.

And even more rarely will you see anything remotely political on this site.

But right now, we all have a chance to let our lawmakers know how we feel about a bill that’s been sitting in front of the Senate Finance Committee since early January.

If passed, this bill would have a direct and immediate impact on any of us who want to avoid the harmful side effects of medications.

It would make natural supplements and other forms of natural healthcare more financially accessible to millions of us. Even consulting a nutritionist could become affordable.

How would this happen, you might ask?

By making it legal for us to use our own hard-earned dollars to seek the treatment of our choice without penalty.

Let me explain.

HSAs and FSAs: Saving you money on health care

If you work at a full-time job, your employer may offer you the option of maintaining a Healthcare Spending Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

Both of these accounts allow you to set aside money to pay for healthcare expenses that are considered to be qualified expenses. These include copays and prescription costs.

The is pre-tax money. So, you are paying for your health care with money that’s never been taxed.

But there are some important differences between these two types of account that you need to be aware of.

Eligibility. In general, you are only eligible for an HSA account if your health insurance plan has a high deductible.

Contribution limit. You can contribute more to an HSA than an FSA.

Rollover. This one is important. With an HSA, any money you don’t spend gets rolled over into the following year, as long as your plan is still open. With an FSA, it’s “use it or lose it” each year.

The law that would make supplements affordable

As of now, the cost of prescription medications can be paid for by the pre-tax dollars in an FSA or HSA. But the cost of vitamins and supplements cannot.

A bill that has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee could change that restriction.

Bill S.12, which has been stalled since January 3, would allow you to use that pre-tax money to pay for nutritional and dietary supplements.

It also would allow someone who does not have a pre-tax spending account to take a medical care tax deduction for over-the-counter medications, including nutritional supplements.

Taking a proactive approach to your health, rather than just letting your doctor fill prescriptions for you, is something we advocate. But financial constraints often make it difficult to try alternative remedies.

Bill S.12 would help by making nutrition services and a range of non-pharmaceutical remedies much more affordable to all of us. But that’s not all…

Health coaches, dieticians, and nutritionists

It will be great when we can keep that tax money in our pockets. We’ll be able to afford to try different supplements, herbal therapies and other natural ingredients that could be effective alternatives to drugs.

Many of us have difficulty maintaining a good diet, an ideal weight, an exercise program, and other habits that we know will make us healthier.

For me, it’s my diet. I know what I should be eating, but it just doesn’t seem to end up that way. I’ve often considered enlisting the help of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Bill S.12 could make that possible.

Just a quick note to distinguish among dietitians, nutritionists, and health coaches.

A dietitian is an expert in dietetics — the effect of diet on our health. They have a degree and have passed an exam given by the national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

A dietitian is qualified to diagnose eating disorders and design diets to treat specific medical conditions.

Nutritionists, on the other hand, are not as regulated. A nutritionist can be anyone who is knowledgeable about nutrition and gives general nutritional advice.

A health coach is a professional who supports clients in achieving specific health goals, such as losing ten pounds or exercising more frequently.

A health coach might help someone like me, and many of us, who know the right things to do for our health but need someone to help us take consistent action to change our habits.

I feel strongly enough about the benefits of passing Bill S.12 that I’ve written my senator.

If this sounds like something you’d like to support, let yours know too!

Sources:

  1. New Senate Bill Would Allow Health Savings Account Funds to be Used for Natural Health Products and Services — Health Impact News
  2. Senate Bill Offers Hope for Health Autonomy — Alliance for Natural Health-USA
  3. HSA and FSA: How to Know the Difference — NerdWallet
  4. Summary: S.12 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) — Congress.gov
  5. Differences Between a Dietitian and Nutritionist — Verywell Fit

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.