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Understanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Mon, Jun 26, 2017 - 3:37pm

Using a health savings account (HSA) is a prudent financial decision that many Americans overlook or simply do not understand. One of their primary benefits is that contributed funds do not run out each year like a medical savings account. Instead, unused funds roll over each year and can be used for future medical expenses. This feature creates a unique planning opportunity to help cover future medical expenses, which is important since it is well documented that medical expenses are the largest expense for many in retirement. Furthermore, a retiree can use a health savings account even when on Medicare to cover medical expenses.

Here are some important facts to keep in mind when it comes to an HSA:

  • They must be under a high deductible health plan.
  • Funds can be used for current or future medical expenses.
  • Contribution limits are set by the IRS ($3,400 if single or $6,750 for family).
  • You control the assets and they are portable if you retire or switch employers.
  • Contributions are 100% tax deductible and withdrawals are tax free for qualified medical expenses.

Who qualifies for an HSA?

To qualify, you must be enrolled in a high deductible plan that is compatible with an HSA and you can’t be enrolled in another health plan or in Medicare (funds acquired through an HSA prior to using Medicare can be used, however).

If you have any questions, your best option is to simply inquire with your employer and see if you qualify for an HSA.

What are the tax implications of an HSA?

Contributions up to IRS limits of $3,400 single or $6,750 family are 100% tax deductible. The money will grow tax deferred and is tax-free if used to pay qualified medical expenses.

Other factors to consider

Assets in the health savings account can be invested in ETFs, mutual funds, or held in cash. A person can do a partial rollover from an IRA into an HSA (within IRS limits) as well to help fund the health savings account. The amount you contribute is an important consideration and it is best to consult an Advisor to best understand how you can potentially benefit from an HSA and determine what amount is most beneficial for you to contribute.

To hear our recent podcast where we discussed HSAs and the problem of escalating medical expenses, please see our 6/19/2017 show, Don’t Die Broke.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me at 858-487-3939.

About the Author

Financial Planner
paul [dot] horn [at] financialsense [dot] com ()