I’ve occasionally posted “death of a thousand cuts” updates about the quiet desperation of navigating our health care system. Well, as one of my more troll-y friends pointed out, one experience isn’t exactly science but a recent experience with big, bad socialized medicine was almost pleasant.
On our blowout summer vacation for the whole family, my mother-in-law injured her heel from too much exploring on ancient Roman roads of solid marble. Luckily, we had an Italian friend who got her to a doctor to ensure it wasn’t more than just swelling. The doctor, not accustomed to billing for visits, didn’t charge my mother-in-law for checking her foot and then gave her crutches to rent for €1.50 (~$1.75) per day. We ended up buying them outright for €$20. She also got prescription-strength ibuprofen for a steal. All in all, my MIL’s costs were less than $30. Zoinks!
But the cost itself isn’t the reason for this post. What came to mind was that, had it been me, my wife or one of our children, we could have used our tax-free HSA funds to pay any bills that were incurred. That’s right, you can use your HSA — or FSA — funds for medical expenses pretty much anywhere on the planet. The two important rules are whatever product or service you’re getting has to be
- On the approved list of HSA/FSA products/services. That’s the U.S. list. Duh.
- Legal both in the U.S. and in the country where you’re receiving the service.