Do you feel yourself getting upset about the increasing cost of healthcare? Are you looking for ways to save on your out-of-pocket costs? Have you tried a Health Savings Account (HSA)?
If not, it is time to get with it! In short, an HSA is a medical savings account available to Americans who are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). The funds contributed to an HSA account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. In other words, you get to set up a tax-free savings account to help pay for healthcare expenses. Click here to learn more. A couple of quick reminders!
- Because there are tax benefits to having an HSA, Uncle Sam requires that you have a higher-deductible insurance plan (HSA-qualified plan). So, you're not only getting the tax benefits, you're also paying less for your insurance plan.
- You have until Tuesday, April 17 to fund your 2017 HSA (yes, you can go backwards!).
We asked an expert to share her advice on the topic. Tanya Boyd is President of Tanya Boyd & Associates, an insurance agency & consulting firm in Texas specializing in health insurance for businesses & individuals. She has a passion for educating consumers on ways to maximize their health insurance & overall benefit program to the fullest, through education and communication. She has been a huge advocate of Consumer Directed Health Plans for years and loves nothing more than seeing people be smart with their money!
With the skyrocketing cost of healthcare and out-of-pocket costs, HSA plans continue to gain popularity. Tanya shared some recent stats for us!
- Did you know that enrollment in high-deductible (HSA-eligible) health plans is estimated to be between 20-22 million policyholders and their dependents?
- Yet, it's estimated that there are only 5.5 million HSA accounts with total assets of $11.4 billion as of Dec 321, 2016.
*Source - Employee Benefit Research Institute
Here are Tanya's top 12 reasons you should have an HSA!
1. This is one of Tanya's favorites! If you haven't reached your HSA contribution limit for the prior year, you can lessen your tax burden by adding to your HSA right up until you pay your taxes. NOTE! Your account must have already been opened in the prior year. Click here to learn the maximum amount you can contribute to your HSA in 2017. Don't forget that $1,000 catch up contribution if you are over age 55!
2. The money you put into your HSA is 100% tax deductible! (Okay, is there anyone out there that wants to give more money to the IRS?)
3. You NEVER pay taxes on your HSA money as long as you use it for qualified medical expenses. Click here for a list.
4. You can reimburse yourself for qualified medical expenses any time you want. For instance, let's say you pay your qualified expenses with your American Advantage credit card to earn those airline miles. When you're ready, you can reimburse yourself from your HSA account. No rush or deadline, but keep those medical receipts in a safe place!
5. Most HSAs offer the ability to invest, like a 401(k). Unlike a 401(k), there's no required minimum distribution - in other words, you don't have to take withdrawals at 70 ½ years old. So, maybe you want another investment option for retirement. You may be surprised to learn that many people use HSAs in this way. Pretty smart, actually. HSA's can help keep retirement plans in place.
6. Unused funds roll over from year to year, so it's NOT a "use it or lose it" account (like a Flexible Spending Account).
7. It is YOUR money, even if your employer contributes. Even if you leave your job and enroll in a non-HSA compatible insurance plan, you can still use your HSA money. Note that you can't contribute to your account if you're no longer enrolled in an HSA-compatible insurance plan.
8. You can use your HSA funds to pay for dependents' qualified expenses - and it's still tax-free even if they're not on your health plan. Yep, it's true.
9. You can use your HSA money for vision and dental expenses, so go get those braces and/or a vision correction surgery, plus more (but sorry ladies, and um, gents…cosmetic procedures are NOT considered eligible)! One could argue that beauty is medically necessary, but…
10. And what about those insurance premiums? Well, you can pay for COBRA premiums, which is great these days since COBRA can sometimes be less expensive than individual insurance in 2017 (yikes…that's a whole other story).
11. Speaking of premiums…if you start an HSA when you're younger, you can look forward to a nice birthday present on your 65th birthday! You can use your fund to pay Medicare premiums for Part B, and D.
12. But one of the very best reasons to have an HSA plan is because of money, honey. HDHPs are, on average, 30% lower in premiums. For example, a Gold Plan (with co-pay) for a 40-year old, versus a Bronze plan (HSA-eligible) would net an annual savings of $2,891.88 in premiums. That's $2,283 you can put in your HSA and you can do a lot with that extra money.
On March 5th, 2018 the IRS modified the HSA family contribution limit from $6,900 to $6,850 for 2018 contributions! Be careful and watch this closely so you don't get penalized for over-funding that Health Savings Account. For a copy of Revenue Procedure 2018-10, click here.
Still not convinced? Here's a gift! Click here for one of Tanya's favorite HSA calculator tools. There are many more reasons to invest in an HSA, so be sure to visit with your employer, a health insurance broker or employee benefits professional.
Are you convinced? Ready to sign up? Whether you get your insurance through an employer or purchase your own insurance, if you have an HSA compatible medical plan, you can get an HSA. Some employers offer them as part of a benefits package, so ask your manager. You can open an HSA at your bank or financial institution of choice. Working with a licensed professional health insurance broker is ALWAYS recommended. They can walk with you through all the steps and educate along the way. And if your employer doesn't offer this type of health plan, make the request! (They'll think you are super savvy and smart with your money - and theirs.)
Now, it is your turn! Do you have an HSA? Have you saved money on your medical expenses? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!