Why Is This Covered Under a Flexible Spending Account?

Reader Craig has to file a health expense claim to get reimbursed from his Flexible Spending Account (FSA). But when he was looking at the list of things that qualify as expenses, he was surprised to see a particular item on the list (PDF).

Christian Science practitioners.

Craig was puzzled by this:

So prayer is regarded by our government as a legitimate form of healthcare? And paying someone to pray is a legitimate healthcare expense!? But only if they are Christian prayers?

How on earth is this legal?

I have no answer here.

Maybe someone can shed some light on this.

(By the way, that FSA list linked to above is not Craig’s, but it resembles the list he is talking about.)

  • http://mylifeintheblender.wordpress.com Laurie

    Do they also cover alternative/homeopathic medicine? I could understand in that case– perhaps they are trying to cover health related services that people use, whether or not they are backed by science. If they don’t cover alternative medicine, I have no answer. . .

  • Rat Bastard

    My HMO recognizes chiropractors, where a lot of the regular medical community does not. Maybe I should “convert”(?) to xtian science. Wait, never mind, I’m too rational and honest to try and mulct the “common folks” out of their money…never would have made it as P.T. Barnum. xtian science works?!? Who knew!?

  • Craig

    Look at the list. No, homeopathic medicine is not listed (and is BS in my opinion).
    Acupuncture and chiropractic are listed (and I’m open minded about those being potentially helpful beyond placebo effect).
    “Christian Science” is the only one that stands out as wacky to me.

    And don’t confuse this with HMO coverage. This is the list of what the federal government will allow you to spend money that you set aside (in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account) for healthcare purposes on. (i.e. the list Hemant linked to is identical to that provided by my FSA administrator.)

    I can’t believe this hasn’t been challenged – I’ve gotta dig into it some more.

    Some more info from Wikipedia:

    ‘Qualified’ practitioners may advertise in the Christian Science Journal, published by the Church of Christ, Scientist as its official organ. To advertise in the Journal–in print and/or on-line– the applicant must be a full-time practitioner and provide evidence of three cases of healing, not including family members. These cases must be attested to in writing by those healed. The on-line listing is accessed through http://www.spirituality.com and then under ‘journal directory.” Some traditional insurance plans cover the cost of treatment received from a Christian Science practitioner listed in the Christian Science Journal. The United States government has ruled that payment for Christian Science treatment is now considered a medical expense by the IRS.

    Incredible!

  • Craig

    Oh and what’s more…unlike actual doctors, these “Christian Science Practitioners” get to charge for their quackery and not pay any taxes!
    See http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-access/f4361_accessible.pdf

    Tell me this makes you angry!

  • GullWatcher

    I asked my sister, who was for many years in the health insurance field. She said that many insurance companies do cover expenses for Christian Science Practitioners as medical treatment. This includes Medicare, by the way, in addition to the FSA. Often the insurance company will require a prescription from a doctor for the treatment (that’s where my mind boggles, an MD writing a prescription for prayer?) and it requires a medical diagnosis. She also said that in ten plus years in the business she only saw one or two charges come in.
    As for why, she said she has no clue why this would be covered, but it’s been going on for a long time. She never questioned it (there were a lot of rules that didn’t make sense, this was just one more) and she didn’t know Medicare covered it until she checked into it when I asked about it. It just doesn’t seem right to either of us that the government should cover it.

  • Richard Wade

    How does a Christian Science Practitioner set his or her rates for charging a patient? By the comparable costs of curing the disease through surgery, medication, radiation therapy or chemotherapy? Is it harder and therefore more expensive for God to cure liver cancer than a bad case of dandruff? If so, why? Wouldn’t it all be the same to an infinitely powerful being? If God’s doing the healing, why should the CSP get paid at all? The insurance companies could insist on paying the Health Care Provider In The Sky directly. They could have a check waiting for Him to pick up at the front desk since they don’t have His mailing address. He could just show up and take it as long as he has two forms of identification. Can a patient ask for a second opinion after seeing the CSP, like maybe an Amazon shaman with feathers in his head, paint on his face and a poultice made with breast milk and powdered fruit bat dung?

  • Lynn

    Why is this a problem for anyone? A flexible spending account isn’t funded by the taxpayer. Also, one assumes that anyone opting for a Christian Science practitioner isn’t going to be using up any tax payer funded medical services any time soon. If this is the primary form of care a person chooses to spend his or her FSA dollars on, what’s it to you? Why do you care if it’s allowed? What does it take from you?

    This is where atheists always lose me. Why do you care if someone believes and chooses to pay for a prayer-based healing session out of his or her own pocket?

    It seems more and more as if a certain type of atheist isn’t going to be happy until they have the government actively quashing any form of religious expression, anywhere, anytime.

    Actually, all this anti-any-religion-anywhere stuff is really beginning to look like a hate campaign.

  • Lisa

    Hate? Really? Because we expect a certain amount of fairness in the system? Because we point out instances of unfairness?

    Religious expression is not quashed when theists are expected to pay the same taxes as everyone else. FSA dollars are generated from pre-tax income. When the money is spent on non medical things, they are cheating the system.

    The intent of FSAs is not to create a rainy day fund to spend as you will. It is to pay for medical expenses. Prayer is not medicine.

    Sheesh.

  • Chal

    I personally don’t like the idea of people suffering needlessly, which is what is happening when they think that prayer can heal them. That’s why I don’t want to see this crap being anywhere on the same level as actual medicine.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    Why are they charging for this service in the first place, that it even needs to be covered under a FSA?

  • Siamang

    It seems more and more as if a certain type of atheist isn’t going to be happy until they have the government actively quashing any form of religious expression, anywhere, anytime.

    Actually, all this anti-any-religion-anywhere stuff is really beginning to look like a hate campaign.

    Here we have religious exceptionalism in full form: Catch them operating their religion as a tax dodge and they accuse YOU of hate!

    Religion is the Blagojevich that keeps on Blagojeviching!

  • Craig

    Lynn:
    I don’t particularly care if someone chooses to pay out of their own pocket for someone else to say prayers for them (other than I wish there weren’t so many of these delusional people). I do care that they get a tax benefit for doing so. It also implies that the government is endorsing this as a real form of healthcare when it isn’t.
    And I do care that the shysters taking money for performing this “service” get to avoid paying income tax that the rest of us have to pay.
    This is about fairness and separation of church and state.

  • Siamang

    And I do care that the shysters taking money for performing this “service” get to avoid paying income tax that the rest of us have to pay.

    Dr. Irving Finegarten: I could sue you for calling me that, Polly! A shyster is a disreputable lawyer. I’M a QUACK!

  • Lynn

    But they’re not getting an additional tax benefit for doing this. It’s not like they can have X number of dollars in their FSA for mainstream healthcare PLUS a special faith-healing FSA for their prayer healing sessions.

    They can only take this out and use it for payment to a certified Christian Science healer for a specific ailment or injury. It’s not like they’re going to take it out for this and a trip to the ER for mainstream medical care. There’s no point for anyone who’s going to tap into mainstream healthcare to waste their FSA dollars on prayer healing if they don’t honestly believe in what Christian Science teaches about medical care.

    I would have no problem if an indiginous person, for example, only believed in traditional healing methods and medicines and wanted to use his or her FSA dollars for that.

    Frankly, if chiropracters are covered, everything should be covered. They’re nothing but a pack of charlatans and quacks. But no one cares because there are no religious overtones to that ridiculous nonsense.

    Not to mention the fact that there’s so much overcharging, waste and, frankly, medical rape going on as far as mainstream western medicine goes, that using FSA dollars spent on all these unnecessary tests hospitals claim a person “needs” (kaching, kaching, just paid for our new doctor’s lounge…) is a far bigger crime, IMO>

    Face it, you don’t like this because it’s religious. Period.

  • Siamang

    But they’re not getting an additional tax benefit for doing this.

    They’re giving money to support religion that they didn’t have to pay employment taxes on, and hiding it as a medical procedure, which it clearly is not.

    Frankly, if chiropracters are covered, everything should be covered. They’re nothing but a pack of charlatans and quacks.

    Agreed.

    But no one cares

    Disagree.

    But no one cares because there are no religious overtones to that ridiculous nonsense.

    What’s key here is that the First Amendment doesn’t mandate a separation between quackery and state. Yes, chiropractic is a waste of government money. The government wasting money is hardly a new thing, nor is it illegal or unconstitutional. A waste of money is one thing, monetary tax breaks as a promotion of a religion is something else.

    Calling my criticism of it “a hate campaign” is something else entirely. Tamp down the rhetoric a bit and you may gain a bit more respect around here.

    Face it, you don’t like this because it’s religious. Period.

    Yeah. That’s it. I don’t like crooks dodging taxes and getting benefits that only favor one religious belief because I’m anti-religion.

  • Lynn

    Then argue that FSAs should cover any kind of treatment — homeopathic, naturopathic, TCM, etc. I’m totally fine with that. Hell, I’ll even throw in that nutso high colonic and vitamin treatment garbage those lunatic Scientologists are into.

    Also, it’s not like anyone, even Christian Scientists (and, btw, you really can’t claim that federal, state or local governments have been supportive of Christian Science — it’s the opposite — mostly they jump in and force mainstream treatment on them) can dip into the FSAs for anything other than documentable treatment by a certified practitioner.

    Seriously. I get the feeling you wouldn’t give a darn if someone used their FSA dollars to buy a flat screen TV, but this gets to you because it’s religious in nature.

  • Lynn

    BTW — just for the record, I think mainstream western medical treatment is a joke and a nightmare. I think western trained mainstream doctors are a bunch of pansy-assed little pussies who spend 100% of their time bending over for lawyers and insurance company executives.

    Also, the majority of dollars spent on healthcare in this country, whether they come out of FSAs or are paid through traditional insurance plans, or the government, or come out of pocket for the patient, are spent on conditions that are easily preventable by the individual him or herself, and at zero cost.

    As a taxpayer, it pisses me off no end that I end up picking up the tab one way or another for the fat, lazy and stupid.

    So the day the government starts penalizing the deliberately unhealthy for their behavior is the day I worry about the miniscule percentage of Christian Scientists who even have FSAs who use those dollars for faith healing.

  • Joanna

    I found a link to our state law on the subject of Christian Science in Wisconsin State Statute Section 448.04 (6):
    “A person who elects Christian Science treatment in lieu of medical/surgical treatment for the cure of disease may not be compelled to medical/surgical treatment”

    I found this an alarming statement..there’s a statute about “Treatment Through Prayer” as well.

    When it comes to adults, I suppose people should have a choice about treatments…what worries me is the children that don’t get treated properly because their parents feel that prayer is all that’s needed.
    Social conservatives like to talk about preserving “potential” life but how about protecting children that are actually compeletely independent beings yet dependent upon the healthcare of “anti-medical-intervention” parents?

  • Siamang

    Seriously. I get the feeling you wouldn’t give a darn if someone used their FSA dollars to buy a flat screen TV, but this gets to you because it’s religious in nature.

    Thanks for telling me what I supposedly think. Stop by anytime.

    I think western trained mainstream doctors are a bunch of pansy-assed little pussies
    ….

    As a taxpayer, it pisses me off no end that I end up picking up the tab one way or another for the fat, lazy and stupid.

    There’s that sense of Christian love and goodwill to men that always warms my heart.

  • Craig

    Lynn said:

    Face it, you don’t like this because it’s religious. Period.

    I don’t like it because it is the government endorsing a particular religion/religious practice in clear (to me at least) violation of the constitution.
    And because it lends legitimacy to a form of treatment that doesn’t work.
    I’m not knowledgeable enough about chiropractic to draw a conclusion on that. I do know several rational people that claim that it has certainly helped them.
    At least there is training and certification required before one can become a chiropractor.

    I learned from Edwin Kagin that American Atheists did challenge this long ago but lost for some reason. Hard to imagine on what grounds it was lost other than (as Edwin suggests) because the government was trying to establish religion.

  • Guffey

    I do have a problem with CS practitioners being on the list, or maybe I have problems with the FSA itself.

    I’d like my massages to be covered since they (honestly) have provided more medical benefit to my back pain than many strictly “medical” procedures. So my “practitioner” is the masseuse – yet I can’t count it.

    So this is similar to allowing the nativity scene at the capitol… if the gov’t is gonna allow one person’s interpretation of medical treatment, they should allow all. While I could care less that a CS practitioner is on the list, my “practitioner” is just as valid as a CS practitioner. And then why not add some of those zealous preachers who invite their audience to come up and “be healed!”… if a person walks again (hallelujah!) because of one then a monetary payment to the preacher should be a medical expense.

    And just FYI, there’s great secrecy to what a practicioner charges… as a former CSer, I was told that a practioner is supposed to charge “equivalent to a doctor”. But there are no published rates, no UCR, that I’m aware of. I could be wrong – it’s been a long time since I was a CSer — but back then charges were an private matter between the CS practitioner and client. Even as a dutiful religious kid I thought that was suspicious.

  • Lynn

    Siamang, I said “I get the feeling”. I wasn’t telling you what you think. I’m telling you how it’s coming across to me.

    I’m not a Christian. I’m not religious at all. I don’t know why, if you’re an atheist, you have to hate all things religious or Christian.

    Craig and Guffey, I agree that more alternative therapies ought to be allowable. I don’t see how fighting one you personally don’t think is effective helps you get support for coverage of one you personally do find effective. I think chiropracters are charlatans and I know people who’ve been seriously hurt by them. I know people who’ve tried alternative therapies to no avail. However, I know others who’ve had good results with these therapies and I know people who are greatly aided by prayer healing or faith healing.

    If you effectively fight CS prayer treatment, all you’ve done is close the door on allowing massage, TCM and the like.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    just for the record, I think mainstream western medical treatment is a joke and a nightmare. I think western trained mainstream doctors are a bunch of pansy-assed little pussies who spend 100% of their time bending over for lawyers and insurance company executives.

    Being one of those “pansy-assed little pussies” myself, imagine my dismay when I come home from a night of call that involved me inserting a needle into a child’s pericardium to drain an effusion that was killing her, followed by placing a 2kg infant on heart/lung bypass in an attempt to save her life – and read your pathetic drivel!

    As you might imagine, I curled up in a ball and called my lawyer for comforting. “</sarcasm

    Lynn, you are ingnorant, a coward, and a small, small person.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    ha, ingnorant = ignorant. new spelling.

  • Lynn

    No, dear. I’m an incredibly well-insured, fairly wealthy person who has experienced first hand the dollar signs going off in the eyes of doctors at Columbia Presbyterian, St. Barnabas and NYU Medical Center when they see who I am and what I can afford.

    Of course, you take offense because you’ll no doubt claim ALL doctors don’t do this. But then, at the same time, you want to exclude faith healing from allowable FSA expenditures because you’re convinced that ALL prayer healing is COMPLETELY ineffective.

    Right. Kiss the western doctor’s ass, do what you’re told, never ask questions, allow serious violation of your person, don’t dare to expect an intelligent explanation of the test or an honest answer regarding whether or not it’s necessary, etc. Been there, done that, wouldn’t give a western doctor a dime ever again. I’d rather die than allow myself to be physcially violated by western doctors again. Last time they pulled that crap, I up and left and called a lawyer and won. Rape is rape, whether it’s some guy in an alley with a knife or some egomaniacal, unethical doctor with a needle.

    I’m small minded? You have to be kidding. The closed-mindedness regarding this particular coverage is astounding.

  • GullWatcher

    @Lynn

    Been there, done that, wouldn’t give a western doctor a dime ever again. I’d rather die than allow myself to be physcially violated by western doctors again.

    Your choice, of course, but do keep your acupuncturist’s name in your wallet in case you are ever in a car wreck. I hear they can do wonders with fractured spleens.

    A person should ask questions and insist on answers, but there is a difference between wanting to have some control over your treatment options and total paranoia. Perhaps you had a bad experience, but that hardly means that every doctor out there is a money-grubbing inompetent.

    Starting to wonder if this isn’t a Poe, it reminds me a lot of that one episode of Family Guy where Peter charges his proctologist with rape just for doing his job…..

  • Lynn

    I am perfectly comfortable accepting death over western medical intervention and I have taken the appropriate legal steps to ensure that nobody interferes with my person and my wishes.

    The problem with having “had a bad experience” is that I no longer have any reason to trust traditional western doctors. None. I have had enough bad experiences, and one serious, unethical, illegal violation of my person to know these people can’t be trusted.

    As you say, my treatment is my choice. As it should be the choice of every citizen who uses his own FSA dollars to pay for the treatment he finds brings him the most benefit. It is not up to the state, or to the AMA, to decide what benefit he chooses as right for him.

    I would support expanding the list of allowable FSA expenditures, but I will not support shrinking it just to satisfy a bunch of bitter, whiny atheists who are intent on throwing a tantrum every time they can’t kill something religious in nature. I will always support anything that gives patients more power.

    If allowing Christian Scientists to choose faith healing over traditional treatment means the right to say no for patients everywhere has greater support, then I’m behind them 100%.

    No means no. Just because some spoiled brat’s daddy got him into medical school doesn’t mean he gets to violate others to pay for his Porsche, his bimbos, and his McMansion — or his new high-tech equipment.

    I am not alone here — there have been a bunch of articles recently, even by doctors who are owning up to this kind of fraud and medical assault (the legal term for performing unnecessary tests and procedures against the will of a patient), about how manipulating unsuspecting patients with high levels of insurance coverage/high incomes is standard practice at most medical institutions. They do this to cover their overhead, and a lot of that overhead is deadbeat fat asses who “need” medical intervention because of their own laziness, piggishness and stupidity.

    When someone addresses that outrage, then I’ll get all concerned about a handful of people using a handful of FSA dollars to pay for faith healing.

  • Chal

    Lynn, would you consider going to a “western doctor” just long enough to get the stick pulled out of your butt?

    Maybe things are different up here in socialist Canuckistan, where the state pays the doctors, but I’ve never had a problem with any of them, and no one I know has mentioned any problems they’ve had. “western medicine” is (or should be) based on the scientific method. If it works, then good, use it. Have it covered by the state.

    But when the state implicitly supports BS like prayer or homoeopathy as some form of medicine, that’s a problem. If people want to throw away their own money on that, then more power to them. Do what you like. But the state should not be footing the bill for something that doesn’t work.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Of course, you take offense because you’ll no doubt claim ALL doctors don’t do this.

    No, Lynn. ATL-Apostate is a doctor, and he takes offense because your statement offends him directly. As a doctor. Which you would have known if you had read his full post instead of accusing him of “Kissing the western doctor’s ass.”

    Let’s have a little intellectual honesty here instead of latching onto the parts that are easy for you to respond to.

  • Lynn

    Uh, yeah, things are different in Canada. Is this the first you’re hearing about it…?

    I will not go to a healthcare provider who has an ulterior motive in prescribing various tests and/or procedures.

    I’d rather we had no insurance and doctors took personal responsibility for their actions. I don’t like one bit that they hide behind lawyers and insurance company executives. I think it’s cowardly behavior.

    My personal choices are mine. Some women choose to murder their babies. I choose to eschew western doctors. You want your choice, don’t mess with mine.

    Someone wants to go to a massage therapist and pay for it out of his FSA, fine, just don’t, at the same time, bitch about someone else using their FSA for prayer healing.

    Live and let live. You lose nothing by allowing CS treatment to be covered by FSA dollars.

    For a lot of atheists, it’s about what they can take away from others, not what is ultimately good for everyone. It is good for everyone if we have more affordable choices when it comes to managing our health as we personally see fit. It ultimately costs the taxpayer less if we encourage people to take responsibility for their own health.

  • Lynn

    If ATL-Apostate is offended, so what?

    He has a right not to be offended by someone who thinks the integrity of his profession has been seriously compromised?

    What a crybaby.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    My point was that it was obvious from your response that you clearly did not read his entire post and immediately lashed back with a winded, irrelevant reply.

    I’m not freaking defending him, just pointing out that if you want to be taken seriously, you need to listen to people. Which from your response to me, it’s clear that you’re not very good at it.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    For a lot of atheists, it’s about what they can take away from others, not what is ultimately good for everyone.

    You’re right. Public money should be spent on charlatans that are out there to line their pockets and dodge taxes–what else do you call someone who charges money for a prayer and calls it a medical treatment?? We just want to deny people the right to piss our tax money away, take away their rights and make Atheism the one mandatory State Religion.

    People should have a fundamental, inalieable right to spend FSA dollars on crack cocaine because it makes them feel better. Who cares if it works or not! The only institution that’s actually evidence-based is so overrun with corrupt insurance execs and wealthy lawyers that it’s totally worthless! Better make it a free-for-all!

    We aren’t an oppressed group defined only by our lack of belief in deities, seeking equal rights or any of that crazy bullshit. No, apparently we’re an organized group of oppressors. Damn, we suck.

  • Lynn

    Public money isn’t being spent on anything. A healthcare FSA is funded by the individual. Those dollars are exempt from being taxed because they’re being set aside for a specific purpose. That the individual is willing to earmark X number of dollars for this purpose SAVES the taxpayer money overall. AAMOF, Christian Scientists save the taxpayer overall because their own tax dollars are used to fund benefits they, because of their beliefs, never tap into.

    I am not willing to write off entirely the health benefit of a believer going to a prayer session. Studies show this is beneficial to a believer’s health. Who am I to begrudge a believer what he or she finds beneficial to their health in their time of need? That’s just cruel and meanspirited. Why do you care? This takes nothing from you, but you would take this from someone else? What a rotten, ungrateful thing to do.

    What “equal rights” are you being denied by CS prayer sessions being allowed as acceptable FSA expenditures? If anything, this opens a door for others to fight for the right to include TCM, massage therapy, accupuncture (if your plan does not allow for it already), homeopathy, and other alternative treatments.

    Obviously no one is ever going to be allowed to include illegal substances (although I wonder if medical marijuana purchases are included under some plans).

    If you use a FSA instead of traditional insurance or an HMO, it doesn’t make any sense to squander those dollars on something frivolous. If you believe mainstream medicine is your best investment, that’s where you’ll spend your FSA dollars. If you believe accupuncture is a better investment for pain management, then it makes more sense for you to spend your dollars there than on seeing a doctor to get a Vicodin scrip. The dollars are used exactly where, when and how the individual feels they’re best used. They dictate their own health care. They’re not being bullied by insurance companies and lawyers and the doctors who are all too quick to roll over for those companies and lawyers.

    This is good for everyone. And here’s a big fat newsflash: if you don’t like the FSA system, you don’t have to participate!

    Ain’t freedom grand?

  • Lynn

    BTW, I got that ATL-Apostate is a doctor. I did read all the words.

    I still don’t trust the mainstream medical community.

    I also don’t go all over submissive when someone tells me they’re a doctor. A doctor is paid to provide a service, just like the guy who cuts my lawn and cleans my gutters. If the guy who cuts my lawn and cleans my gutters tried to screw me, he’d get the same treatment. And if three lawn care people and gutter cleaning people in a row tried to screw me, I’d sure as heck be pretty darned leary of the industry.

    Again — the benefits of freedom rock. I choose. I get to choose. I get to call the shots when it comes to my body and my money. If that “offends” some doctor on the internet, too freaking bad for him.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Lynn,

    Fine. Atheists aren’t marginalized at all. And FSA-funded prayer proves that.

    From the little I’ve read, you seem to be the kind of person who makes up your mind about groups of people, then you engage your interactions in such a way that you can always confirm your prejudices.

    Atheists are general agents of hate and oppression. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Nothing’s going to change your mind, so why come here trying to tell me what things I hate and don’t hate?

  • Lynn

    And that some atheists believe all atheists are marginalized has exactly what to do with CS prayer healing being included as acceptable expenditure of FSA dollars?? Did you want atheist prayer services included? Atheists non-prayer healing services? What do you want, other than to EXCLUDE Christians?

    I get SO tired of stating this, but here ya go, for the umpteenth time: I AM AN ATHEIST!

    I just don’t jump on the Christian-hate-train with the atheists who’ve made religion-bashing the driving force in their lives.

    Yes, SOME atheists ARE hateful towards religious folks. That’s just a fact. Others don’t care. Believe it or not, there are atheists out there who honestly don’t care if Christian Science prayer healing is on the list of acceptable FSA expenditures.

  • Lynn

    What’s hysterical about the assertion that some poor widdle atheist somewhere is feeling all marginalized and crap because, like, maybe ten Christian Scientists will be able to spend their own hard-earned FSA dollars on a prayer session is that you have ZERO problem with marginalizing Christian Scientists.

    Your mainstream, highly scientific shit is already covered. All this fact-and-science based, no spiritual aspect based, no cultural tradition aspect based treatment is covered.

    But because someone who is religious might get something you claim is stupid and that you don’t even want anyway, you’re crying and whining like a bunch of babies.

    What do you want from the world? A big teddy bear with a little pink sash stating “We Heart Atheists”? Will that make you feel better?

    You are so negative. Everything here is about how everything is so unfair. Please. You spoiled brats don’t know what true inequality is. You don’t know the first thing about genuine hardship. Go tell a holocaust survivor how your tender widdle feelings are all hurt because a Christian Scientist got their prayer session covered by their own money. Go tell a genocide survivor how put-upon you are at Christmas because someone in your town put out a nativity scene.

    If having your delicate sensitivities bruised because you perceive some religious person somewhere getting something you think is unfair is the worst that ever happens to you, count yourselves lucky.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Lynn, the comment about marginalization of atheists comes in response to this comment here, and many like it:

    For a lot of atheists, it’s about what they can take away from others, not what is ultimately good for everyone.

    If I’m not mistaken, your original argument is that expecting the exclusion of a religious service from Flex spending is an example of atheist-borne hate and oppression.

    It is the opinion of many people here that since Flex spending is by definition a tax break, it is in the interest of the tax payers to ensure that it is used wisely and effectively.

    You countered this with your mistrust of the entirety of mainstream medicine in the US, arguing that medical care being in the shape it is, alternatives are required, and that limiting treatments that can be covered under flex accounts is tantamount to limiting choice and therefore antithetical to freedom. This is what you keep harping on, and we’ve been going in circles on this argument.

    It was pointed out to that since the medical field is the only source of treatment that is rooted in real, empirical evidence, that it is the only effective allocation of Flex dollars. You rejected this line of thinking, once again, based on your mistrust of bureaucracy and touting freedom of choice, and we’ve been going in circles on this argument as well.

    It has also been pointed out to you that we do not take issue with alternative therapies in general. We may pity the victims who died from staunch refusal to seek treatment that would have worked, but we feel that legitimizing these therapies by allowing them to collect money tax-free is a bad idea. You once again took a hard, all-or-nothing approach to flex spending, touting freedom of choice and the miserable state of “Western Medicine”.

    You have also insisted that it is no skin off the taxpayer’s back for FSAs to include alternative therapies. This is absurd, because any tax break is made up for in other places with – yes – public money.

    But Lynn, even if you disagree, you know our point of view on FSA money being spent on religious services, you know why we disagree with your opinions, you know that our opinions are not formed without considerable thought, and it should be fairly clear to you why some of us feel it is in no way oppressive or hateful, but rather, the fair thing to do.

    If you had started this conversation by simply expressing disagreement with the majority of people here about flex spending and religious services, and stating your argument in a coherent fashion, rather than coming straight out with bald accusations of hate and oppression, the discussion would never have gotten as heated as it has.

    Lynn, should e-meter readings be covered under flex spending?

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    If having your delicate sensitivities bruised because you perceive some religious person somewhere getting something you think is unfair is the worst that ever happens to you, count yourselves lucky.

    It’s clear from this comment that you don’t get our position at all. Then again, you consider a quibble over flex spending and Christian Science to be genuine hate and oppression.

    No, this is not an example of marginalization. HOWEVER, it is the stated goal of many atheists to support the separation of church and state, and to oppose marginalization in all its forms. But flex spending on Christian Science prayers, because it is tax-related, is a church-state issue. You, on the other hand, take this position so far out of context that you think it’s OK to call us whiny bitches for it.

    Marginalization is marginalization, regardless of scale. Just because the Jews had it worse than us does not make our grievances less valid.

    By the way, you have officially Godwinned this comment thread.

  • Lynn

    I have no issue with “heated”.

    I have a huge issue with whiny, selfish and babyish.

    To me, your opinions still seem formed primarly by your aversion to and hatred for anything religious. To me, this is still about trying to take something away from religious people just because you don’t like religion.

    And that’s the problem — it’s not that you just don’t believe in a deity, or put any stock in religion, it’s that you actively dislike and fear all things religious.

    That’s bigotry, and bigotry is just another form of hate.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Oh and hey… yeah, I get that you’re an atheist. What I don’t get is why you have this inexplicable superiority complex just because you hate medicine and support tax breaks for religious work. I don’t get why you think that affords you some kind of special treatment around here. I don’t get why when you unleash a torrent of insults, vulgarities and baseless accusations, you think we should all shut up and be civil because hey, you’re an atheist too. Want a freaking medal??

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    by your aversion to and hatred for anything religious

    it’s that you actively dislike and fear all things religious.

    There you go again telling me what I hate and fear. That’s prejudice and prejudice is a form of hate. Oh, see, I can spout platitudes too!

    What you seem to be missing here is that excluding prayer from medical insurance coverage does not prevent people from seeking it on their own dime! Nobody wants to ban it outright. It’s neither hatred nor fear, which we have explained to you over and over and which you have conveniently ignored over and over, in order to support this weird superiority complex that separates you from the “angry atheists”.

    Sorry, no, not all criticism of religion is based in hate and fear.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    I have a huge issue with whiny, selfish and babyish.

    You can’t expect me or anyone else to continue talking to you if you keep this shit up. We have explained to you why we think our points are valid and you haven’t come up with any new arguments. It’s clear we disagree in our reasoning but you’ve failed to show why our reasoning is flawed. You just keep repeating the same talking points and spewing your vitriol, and you actually think that’s going to result in anybody learning anything.

  • Lynn

    You’re right.

    There is no point at all in talking to each other.

    Have a lovely evening.

  • Craig

    Lynn, the not-so-rational atheist said:

    Christian Scientists save the taxpayer overall because their own tax dollars are used to fund benefits they, because of their beliefs, never tap into.

    Huh? You haven’t been following have you. Christian Scientist Practioners don’t pay income tax! They get a special exemption. Your massage therapist wouldn’t get this even if his/her services were allowable FSA expenses.

    I know people who are greatly aided by prayer healing or faith healing.

    This is what is called the placebo effect. Companies that market drugs have to prove that their drugs do more than could be explained by the placebo effect.

    If you effectively fight CS prayer treatment, all you’ve done is close the door on allowing massage, TCM and the like.

    Not at all. You are saying that all alternative therapies are equal when they are testably not so. I’m sure a scientific study could be done (and probably has been) that shows the benefits of massage beyond placebo effect.
    But this is not just about FSA, this concerns separation of church and state and adherence to the constitution, and is a potentially dangerous precedent.
    Just because having the Ten Commandments listed outside a courthouse doesn’t harm me, doesn’t mean I find it acceptable.

  • Lynn

    Craig, you haven’t been following, have you? Christian Scientists pay taxes like everyone else. Their tax dollars go to support medical and healthcare benefits they never tap into. I don’t see them crying about how unfair it all is.

    The amount of taxes they pay into our system is exponentially greater than any tax benefit they derive from the miniscule number of Christian Scientists who a) have acceess to FSAs and b) use them for prayer healing, as well as the tax-exempt status of the practioners themselves.

    If you want to be fair, then allow religious people to opt out of paying for abortion and contraceptives, and for those whose beliefs forbid the use of mainstream medical care, to opt out of paying for healthcare programs that benefit others.

    Personally, I think we’re all seriously over-taxed, so anyone who gets away with paying less taxes is a hero to me. I’m a true libertarian. I think the crap that went down yesterday will guarantee that this country falls into a deep financial depression starting around summer of this year and lasting for about two years. That ridiculous waste of billions and billions and billions of taxpayer dollars really should concern you a lot more than the handful of Christian Scientists who may be saving a very small amount of money on the taxes they pay.

    But, again, it’s all about pushing religion underground. You won’t be happy until this is Communist China or the old U.S.S.R., will you? Yeah. That’s all worked out so well…

  • Siamang

    I get SO tired of stating this, but here ya go, for the umpteenth time: I AM AN ATHEIST!

    I’ve never said this before to anyone….

    Maybe you’d be better off religious.

    I mean, with you calling people pussys, and fat and stupid and lazy, and just being an all around asshole to everyone here. Perhaps you need Jesus in your life.

    I’m being partially serious. You need a radical personality change, and maybe religion is the key (or alternatively some type of medication). You really couldn’t do much worse than you’ve got right now. At this point, I’d rather have lunch with Ray Comfort than you. Even both Ray and Kirk. Eating nothing but bananas and drinking Coke from cans. And that’s saying something.

    Anyway, barring a religious conversion, can you keep the fact that you’re an atheist just to yourself?

    Much appreciated.

  • Craig

    Lynn: I’m sorry that you cannot understand the difference between a Christian Scientist and a Christian Science *Practitioner*. I’m not going to waste my time trying to get through to you anymore – it is obviously futile.

    And Siamang: religion may help her, or could make her worse…scary thought. She is already suffering from irrational thought processes – they won’t do anything to alleviate that. I’m not sure even western medicine has a cure for that – depends on what the underlying cause is.

  • Lynn

    Whatever, kiddies. You really are the most ill-bred, badly raised, spoiled, whiny little brats.

    Enjoy your continued hate-fest. What a misery life must be, always looking for some perceived inequity or unfairness to obsess over.

    What a humorless, cold, dead, sad lot you all are.

  • GullWatcher

    @ Lynn – projection much?

    I think a long vacation on a nice tropical isle would really help my health – can I get put that on my FSA and get a tax exemption for it?

    The FSA is a tax break for people who have to shell out a lot for medical treatment. Not vacations and not prayer, or at least it shouldn’t be.

    One thing I don’t get is why it keeps being compared here to massage therapy, which generally IS covered if it’s from a licensed massage therapist and you have a prescription from a doctor. Seriously, check it out, it is usually covered.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    I think we’ve finally discovered a truly angry atheist.

  • Craig

    Gulfwatcher:

    massage therapy, which generally IS covered if it’s from a licensed massage therapist and you have a prescription from a doctor. Seriously, check it out, it is usually covered.

    Just a clarification – we’re talking about FSA here, which is dictated by taxation law. Massage therapy is not listed as something that FSA dollars can be used for.
    Insurance companies of course have discretion about what they cover, but FSA is very different.


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