VALUABLE READ: Paying for Mold-Related Health Expenses with your Insurance HSA and FSA
cesarcollado
April 21, 2020

How to Save Money from the Triple Tax Advantage to Manage Your Chronic Condition

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By Cesar Collado

I have been writing articles for BioBalance, CitriSafe, and ImmunoLytics since last year.  I am fortunate to collaborate with all three companies that provide complementary products, services, and information that help mold sick individuals with cost effective mold testing, air purification, cleaning, removal, fogging, and misting products for the homes of the mold sick.  Working with these small companies is in contrast to my career in pharmaceuticals where profits and pricing drove decisions.   It is very unusual to have separate companies provide a united front and collaboration to battle an illness.

I write research and write these articles weekly to educate individuals on as many different health related issues and scientific summaries to enable individuals and families to manage the complex landscape and efforts required to get better.  What is different when it comes to environmental illness is that severely ill individuals can get better without bankrupting a family’s financial situation or retirement; however, it requires much education, flexibility, and effort.  This is where we try to help.

Today’s article, perhaps, shares one of the most important pieces of information I have been able to research and write about.  This is because it provides information that enables the path to wellness to be more affordable.  There exists some important tax code information for mold sufferers to be able to take full advantage of tax-deductible expenses and the triple tax advantage provided by the IRS through insurance companies and Healthcare Savings Accounts (“HSAs”).  Having an HSA is my number-one criteria for selecting my plans each yearly enrollment period for health insurance.  It effectively gives me a 40% discount on mold products, equipment, and medicine I need to keep my home mold free and stay well.

Healthcare has become a central point of focus in every person’s life due to the global pandemic.  Unbeknownst to many US taxpayers, the US tax code takes medical treatment of chronic conditions into consideration for taxes.  This is especially true when a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account (“HSA”) is selected by the insured.  The IRS allows individuals the ability to set aside $3,500 for individuals or $7,000 for families per year prior to taxes being removed for health care expenditures.

Healthcare Economics

In healthcare, as in life, money drives behavior.  This is an unfortunate, in my opinion, as I believe healthcare should be available and affordable to everyone.  Mold Sensitivity burdens people many, many times.  Aside from making people sick, it burdens individuals and their doctors with a mystery to solve to be diagnosed by exclusion of other diseases over time through a trial and error method amongst medical professionals.  As important, the mold in the home must be addressed in order for the patient to be able to heal and get well.  This process can be devastating to almost any family’s financial situation. Finally, mold illness taxes the entire family as it can be debilitating and cause numerous stressors to family relationships in addition to financial uncertainty.  In today’s times of uncertainty, an HSA coupled with a proactive discussion with your physician can result in significant cost savings for out of pocket expenditures.

While healthcare costs (Doctor and Prescription) have skyrocketed, it is possible that mold illness can be overcome through numerous “battlefield” efforts to remove mold from the home, practice proper nutrition, and use over-the-counter supplements, and remedies.  This “all-encompassing” effort can also be done with a fraction of the healthcare costs spent on a daisy chain of physician diagnostics and referrals.

Important: HSA documentation indicates OTC medicines are not allowed to use HSA.  This is not true if the physician documents that it is prescribed to you to treat a chronic illness.

When it comes to mold, investing hundreds of dollars in identifying the issue, reducing mold counts, and improving air quality can actually have a significantly greater impact on the patient’s health, quality of life, longevity, and healing than a physician’s (without mold knowledge) care.  In addition, the purchase of a HEPA vacuum and a portable air purifier can become game changers.

In all likelihood, it would be a combination of a physician’s guidance plus a preventive diet, remediation, and maintenance protocols in addition to healthcare spending that would get someone well.

(It is important to note that these solutions mentioned do not address if you have a systemic mold problem as a result of a leak, or excessive moisture, or if your home is overwhelmingly moldy.  If you can see it and smell it, it needs to be remediated.  If it is bigger than 3 feet by 3 feet, or you are extremely sensitive, you may need a professional.  Safety equipment is always recommended when cleaning for mold.)

What are HSAs and FSAs?

Many high deductible healthcare plans include a Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA).  An HSA plan allows you to set aside money into a trust. (A trust can be a bank that administers HSAs.) This is done prior to taking income taxes out by the employer. This money, in turn, earns interest and can be rolled over to future years if unused.  The funds can also be invested.  The money set aside is also tax deductible.  Hence, the triple tax advantage.

An FSA is similar, although it has tighter restrictions on allowed medical expenses or other predetermined expenses. The funds can be spent on specific expenses; however, they only allow $500 carryover to the following year according to the Affordable Care Act.  The remaining balance is governed under the condition of “use it or lose it”, with the exception of the $500 carryover. FSAs are unique in that they are designed to offer families the benefit of using funds for dependent care and other special needs.  This is why I prefer the HSA to the FSA.

HSAs and FSAs are governed under IRS Publication 969; however, IRS Publication 502 is the document that determines what you can spend the money on, using the credit card provided by the trust.

Check Your Insurance Policy…You may have an HSA or FSA to assist you with mold expenses.

It does require some initiative to ensure proper documentation is captured to effectively pay for many of your expenses with your HSA or FSA during your path toward wellness. IRS Publication 502 provides the guidelines to ensure proper healthcare expenses are paid for and provides guidance on expenses unintended to benefit from the triple tax advantage HSAs provide.

It is important to recognize that mold sensitivities and immune system dysfunctions are recognized as chronic illnesses.

What is Included in “Medical Expenses?” 

Publication defines Medical expenses as:

Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental disability or illness. They don’t include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation. “

“the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and for the purpose of affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.  IRS PUBLICATION 969

I pressure tested this by discussing products and services from ImmunoLytics, CitriSafe, and BioBalance with a tax accountant to be sure I did not misinterpret.

What Does This Mean to You?

As such, patients with HSA accounts and these conditions should take notice, because, if left untreated, the disease presents unique dangers to health. Thus, most treatments, even simple mold hygiene, which may normally be excluded, qualify as long-term healthcare services as described by IRS Document 502.

IRS 502 addresses qualified expenses for HSA accounts as:

“…necessary diagnostic, preventative, therapeutic, treating, mitigating, rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services that are: 1) Required by a chronically ill individual, and 2) Provided pursuant to a plan of care prescribed by a licensed healthcare practitioner.” IRS PUBLICATION 502

Over the counter medications, nasal cleaning, homeopathic remedies, and nutritional supplements are normally excluded, unless they are prescribed in the same fashion to treat a chronic illness by a doctor or other licensed practitioner. The physician must first write a formal diagnosis and prescribe the steps required to make a home safe, which includes proper mold hygiene to remain symptom free.

I have reviewed each of the IRS guidelines in detail, reconciling my understanding with tax specialists and tax accountants regarding this issue.  While I cannot be responsible for any response from a person’s HSA, accountant, or IRS, I can confirm that each individual is responsible for how their HSA is spent.  Further, a written prescription or description by your physician should be sufficient documentation to use your HSA account. Letterhead or prescription pad from the physician’s practice will suffice with the Patient Diagnosis and products needed for treatment descriptions, regardless of whether it is a prescription, non-prescription, nutritional supplement, homeopathic, or medical supply, etc.  The important thing is to document that the use and intent is consistent with IRS document 502 guidelines.

Important: HSA documentation imply that HEPA Vacuum, Portable Air Purifiers, Haven Misters, Haven Foggers, CitriSafe Mold Solution Concentrate, CitriSafe Maintenance Candles, CitriSafe Laundry Liquid Detergent, Haven Mist, Haven Fog, Haven Clean, Immunolytics Mold Test Kits, CitriSafe Health Support Products, qualify with physician Documentation

(You can check with your accountant, provided you are prepared to seek proper documentation from your physician. You can also take the initiative and be prepared to ask for what you need.).

Example of Proactive Creation of a Form for your Physician Can Document for your Tax Records

What is unique about using an HSA is that you are in charge of decisions on what to spend this savings account on, including representing that spending to the HSA administrators or IRS. Here is an example of detailed documentation that could be used to illustrate mold-related healthcare expenses. HSA benefit screeners or accountants may question the expenses; however, they are not in the business of challenging physician treatments for chronic debilitating diseases.  You need your environment to be free of mold to get well, period. I suggest you read IRS publication 502 if you are trying to push additional expenses. Improvements to homes and mold remediation are complex issues and require special tax treatment.  Simple proactive documentation is all that is required.  The health insurance industry has not recognized mold from claims unless certain procedures are followed.  A HSA allows you to capture many of your out of pocket costs because it is a chronic illness.

For questions, comments or to share your story, please comment on this post or I can be contacted by email at Cesarcollado@icloud.com.

About the Author:  

Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D senior executive, venture capitalist, and seasoned strategy consultant in biotechnology and technology industries in general. He currently works as an advisor to multiple technology start-ups and advises several companies with technology solutions, including companies that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness.

Cesar worked with MicroBalance Health Products from 2014-2019, where he had responsibility for strategy, revenues, marketing, and finance, as well as, writing all original content for the company’s newsletters during his tenure. Cesar is passionate about awareness and treatment of environmental illness as a significant, unmet and misdiagnosed, medical need. He has partnered with Integrative Physicians, Bau-Biologists, Environmental Inspectors, Mold Remediators, HVAC IAQ Specialists, and other professionals to generate educational materials for the environmentally ill. Cesar currently writes original content for ImmunoLytics, Bio-Balance, and CitriSafe: Protocols and Products for a Healthy Life. 

4 Comments

  1. Deborha L Carter MD

    Cesar.

    Thank you for this. Who knew? As you know, for years I have used Dr.Dennis’ products but recently have been using a many Citrisafe products. I just recently purchased a shower head filter. Could you add that and the refill to your product check list for the physicians letter.
    Also, what is the difference between the fogger that is very cloudy and the fogger that is just a mist? Are they equally effective, one is cold and one is not? Do they use the same product in both machines.
    Lastly wnat do you think of Osani purifiers. I have the same two iQAire Pro Health units for 20 years-run them 24/7 and still going strong. They have better products now, of course, but the prices have gone up as well. Just curious as to your preference.

    Reply
    • cesarcollado

      Thank you for your comments. For tax purposes, you can simply document it on the form with writing as long as the physician knows what and why you are buying. It is not the IRS’s job to question how a physician practices medicine.

      As for cold and hot fogging, here is my response. The hot fogging should be looked as an event. It will take a day to fog and let settle. It will also take a significant effort to HEPA vacuum all debris. This is much more comprehensive as the hit fog will rise and work its way around all of your furnishings and into cracks and crevices.

      Cold fogging should be looked as shorter term or maintenence. It takes very little time and you do not need any safety equipment or settling time. HEPA vacuum is recommended but not necessary. The aerosolized fog is limited in its reach as gravity will pull it down vs. hot fog rising. So the entire surface and backs or underneath do not get reached. The aerosolized mist will reduce the fungal load significantly. Most mold test come up clean after fogging. Over a period of weeks, mold will get a footing and reproduce to previous levels if the source is not fixed. But, you can fog weekly or biweekly to keep the air load under control. We recommend to renters as they have limited input on what a landlord is willing to do. One final note, it is safe to breath. Drs. fog people when they enter their offices.

      As for the IQ Air, it is the Toyota Camry of air purifiers. It is not the quietest or best; however, it can be counted on for a long and productive life. I recommend it. Any HEPA filter made for it will be sufficient as long as it is clearly marked HEPA.

      Reply
  2. Julie

    This is a very interesting concept that makes sense. Thank you for your research and for sharing this. My question is, “Would a HERTZME test qualify as an HSA expense to followup on remediation?”

    Reply
    • cesarcollado

      Thank you for your comment. Any diagnostic or home treatment should be covered as long as your physician prescribes it. It is best to get written instruction (ie. like the form in the article) for tax documentation.

      Reply

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