And a Financial Suggestion Bonus: Utilizing Your HSA Account to Pay for Mold-Related Health Expenses
By Cesar Collado
Many people do not realize that chronic sinusitis, mold-related illness and immune system dis-regulation impact approximately 42 million people in the US alone. If left untreated, quality of life for these patients ranges from daily discomfort to loss of normal, everyday function, to deep depression and exhaustion, and the inability to work or care for families. Unfortunately, treating these conditions is a long process and usually requires extra efforts to get well that go beyond the traditional path of a straightforward medical diagnosis and/or medicines and procedures. Many times, treatment also goes financially beyond accepted insurance coverage and/or medical allowances and starts to add up quickly. The monetary strain of getting well then takes on a stress of its own.
Thankfully, for mold patients, sometimes simply recognizing and addressing the cause of their illness (Home, Work) and practicing good “mold hygiene” mitigates the constant assault on the immune system. This allows the body to heal and metabolize the toxins. Thus, the immediate results of removing the cause (mold) are very often remarkable and additional treatments are not as lengthy or expensive. It is easy to be penny smart and pound foolish when it comes to addressing mold illnesses.
I have witnessed numerous severely ill patients who removed the mold antigen from their homes and experiences a quick turn in their quality of life, wellness, energy, and sleep patterns. (For more on mold and sleep, read Could Mold Be The Cause of Your Sleep Problems? (from moldfreeliving.com.)
Healthcare Economics 101
In healthcare as in life, money is money. This is an unfortunate view, though, in my opinion, because it does not consider saving money outside of traditional healthcare costs and what insurance will typically cover. The reality is that healthcare costs (prescription) have skyrocketed; while, many time the readily available over-the-counter and homeopathic remedies, proper cleaning and removal of mold, diet, and nutritional supplements could be utilized, and could help a patient achieve wellness at a fraction of the healthcare costs. Regarding mold, investing hundreds of dollars in 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. The purchase of a HEPA vacuum and a portable air purifier can also be life-improving.
If you home tests like this, it is difficult to contemplate getting better in such an environment regardless of medication.
Pharmaceutical medicines are prescribed for eliminating symptoms. These medicines add up and may not impact the bodies healing process. Anti-depressants and anticonvulsants, for example, do nothing to address mold! Antihistamines and steroids impact allergens but do not treat the cause of the immune reaction.
In contrast, the following action directly treat the mold, but are not typically accepted as health-related expenses:
- Fogging your home with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate to drastically reduce mold counts in your home air;
- Using EC3 Air Purification Candles to eliminate mold and mycotoxins in your immediate air where you relax;
- Rinsing sinuses daily with Citridrops and the Nasopure Nasal Wash System to remove the specific molds spores that are making you sick along with mucous and debris;
- Using EC3 Mold Screening Test Kits to monitor mold counts;
- Using EC3 Laundry Additive to clean your clothes, linens, and to maintain a mold free washing machine.
These steps have a greater, cost effective “bang for the buck” than most prescribed medical solutions. Further, I would suggest that these steps can provide alleviation of the symptoms from mold more than any other healthcare remedy, including expensive surgeries. Total expense for these tools to keep your home and sinuses clean by removing the cause (mold) are much lower AND have a significantly greater impact on wellness. Yet patients and doctors both often miss the opportunity to eliminate the cause of the illness and support the body’s healing environment, even though this approach can be superior to any pharmaceutical solutions.
As an example, I know that purchasing a fogger, EC3 Mold Solution, a Breathe Easy Kit, and an EC3 purification candle will approach over $400 out of pocket. My experience has taught me that mold patients feel better, almost immediately, with these tools, compared to patients who may prefer traditional, diagnostic and pharmaceutical solutions. While avoiding the expenses to remove the cause, these patients will still incur copays for drugs, medical appointments, physician referrals, diagnostics and imaging, surgery, etc., which add up and quickly exceed $400.
Dr. Dennis’ practice is focused on removing mold from the causal equation early in the diagnostic process. This early diagnostic process is significantly less expensive and more expedient than the alternative. The alternative path may take patients months or even years to pinpoint mold as the cause of symptoms with the large price tag that comes with all of the time, doctors’ visits and diagnostics. (Read about Dr. Dennis’s approach at https://sinusitiswellness.com/taking-mold-off-of-the-table/.)
It is important to note that these solution do not address if you have a real 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 10 feet by 10 feet or you are extremely sensitive, you may need a professional. Safety equipment is always recommended when cleaning for mold.
Added Bonus for HSA users: Using your HSA to get well from mold.
In the event that your healthcare includes a Health Savings Account, HSA, some initiative and proper documentation is adequate to effectively pay for many of your expenses during your path toward wellness. High deductible healthcare plans (deductible >$1300 have increased dramatically in the past 3 years. 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 Chronic Sinusitis, mold sensitivities, and any immune system dysfunctions are all debilitating illnesses.
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.”
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 reviewed the IRS guidelines and spoke with tax specialists and an accountant 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. A Physician Practice letterhead or prescription pad would 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. (You can check with your accountant, provided you are prepared to seek proper documentation from your physicians. You can also take the initiative and be prepared to ask for what you need.).
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. Home insurance industry has been effective on excluding mold from claims unless certain procedures are followed. This is solely for Health Savings Accounts. Flexible Spending accounts are similar; but that is a different topic.
For questions, comments or to share your story, please do so below.
Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D 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 that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness.