Spend Smart: Get Paid to be Active

By Michaela Althouse

We are all familiar with the process of filing insurance papers to protect the important things in your life. Houses, cars and perhaps most often, healthcare. While many plans focus on more conventional doctor’s appointments and the dreaded yearly visit to the dentist, everyone reading this should take a closer look at their policies. Some plans today actually cover personal training and lessons as a form of physical therapy.

Lisa Mathason started personal training with Barb Seiden, owner of KickSmart Swimming and Barb’s Personal Training, back in July in order to lose weight and help to cope with her diabetes. She later found out that her work insurance policy offers a health savings account. Money is taken from her paycheck every month and she has a card to make payments for certain medical costs not covered by traditional insurance. This includes over the counter medication, even calamine lotion, and personal training. All Mathason had to do was submit extra documentation, although coverage is not guaranteed for everything.

“It was a very easy process,” Mathason said, “they had the forms online. I just needed a script from my doctor that said it was a medical necessity and an itemized receipt.”

A health savings account is available to taxpayers enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. The money in the account is not subject to income tax and the funds roll over year to year if not spent, unlike a flexible spending account. The only drawback Mathason found was that you had to select in advance how much to put in your account.

Jeanell Morgan is hoping for reimbursement as well for her 10-year-old son diagnosed with autism. A very athletic child, Brayden has swimming lessons with Barb once a week. They frequently enroll Brayden in extra-curricular activities to see what works best and swimming is something he particularly loves and is calming for him. With the clear benefits in mind, Morgan will apply for reimbursement at the end of the year.

Morgan is no stranger to submitting receipts for insurance companies. Every year she gives her accountant records showing any out-of-pocket expenses for Braydon and hopes to be paid back.

“We save all out receipts for everything and then we submit it,” Morgan said. “If it’s successful, then great. If not, then at least we tried.”

While it does not typically work out, Morgan believes there is a cost threshold not always met, she hopes that submitting the cost of swim lessons may help get them get there. Until then, she believes that everyone attempting to be reimbursed should do their homework because every insurance policy and every person are different.

Whether or not reimbursement will work for everyone, we can all agree on the benefits of an active lifestyle. With the help of Barb, everyone is working towards a healthier and better life, and hopefully at a little less cost. Happy exercising!

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