An HSA is a tax-advantaged savings account, similar to a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA), but designated for qualified medical expenses. An HSA allows you to pay for current qualified medical expenses and save for future qualified medical expenses on a tax-favored basis.
HSAs provide triple-tax advantages: contributions, investment earnings, and qualified distributions-are all exempt from federal income tax, FICA (Social Security and Medicare) tax and state income tax (for most states).
Unused HSA dollars roll over from year to year, making HSAs an easy way to save and invest for future qualified medical expenses. You own your HSA and can take it with you when you change medical plans, change jobs, or retire. This means the funds in your account, contributed by you and your employer, are non-forfeitable and portable.
Funds in your account not needed for short-term expenses may be invested, providing the opportunity for funds to grow. Investment options include money market accounts and mutual funds.
To be eligible to set up and contribute to an HSA, you must be covered by a qualified HDHP and not have other coverage (e.g., Medicare).
If you enroll in a qualified HDHP and meet other IRS criteria, you may open and contribute to an HSA. All of the money deposited into your HSA, up to the maximum annual contribution limit determined by the IRS each year, is 100% tax-deductible for federal income tax, FICA (Social Security and Medicare) tax, and state income tax (for most states).
If you choose, you may use your HSA funds, to pay for expenses under your HDHP that you incur before you have met your deductible, for coinsurance or copayments you owe after meeting your deductible or for any other qualified medical expenses.
The funds in your account can be used for other, non-medical expenses, but distributions used for non-medical expenses are subject to ordinary income taxes, plus a 20% penalty if you are under age 65. The 20% penalty does not apply if the distribution occurs after you reach age 65, become disabled or die; however, ordinary income tax may still apply.
Funds remaining in your account at the end of the year roll over and accumulate for your future qualified medical expenses. You may choose not to spend your HSA dollars and instead use after-tax dollars for your qualified medical expenses, leaving your HSA dollars to grow for the future. Choosing which expenses to pay with out-of-pocket after-tax dollars and which to pay with your HSA dollars is entirely up to you.
You are eligible to open an HSA if you are:
You are still eligible if you:
HSA, contributions help you build a balance to assist with current and future qualified medical expenses. Anyone, including your employer or family members, may contribute to your HSA. You are eligible to make or receive contributions to your HSA if you are:
You are still eligible if you:
If you no longer participate in a HDHP or enroll in Medicare, you can no longer make or receive HSA contributions.
Money may be deposited to your HSA through payroll deduction, if your employer participates in such a program, or you may deposit funds directly to your account. Deposits may be made periodically or in one lump sum.
Payroll deductions: If your employer offers the option, you may specify a regular contribution to be deducted from your paycheck. This contribution is made before Social Security, federal income tax, and state income tax (for most states) are deducted.
Deductible contributions: You may choose to make all or part of your annual account contributions to your HSA by writing a personal check or completing an electronic transfer and deducting your contribution on your income tax return, using IRS Form 1040 and Form 8889.
Please note, you must file IRS Form 1040 to take a deduction for your HSA contributions, not the short form 1040A or 1040EZ. This deduction is taken "above the line" and you do not need to itemize contributions on Schedule A in order to claim the deduction for HSA contributions.
A tip: you can contribute up to the maximum annual contribution at any time until the deadline for filing your income tax return (generally, April 15 of the following year for calendar year tax payers). Your employer may contribute to your account as well; while you do not take a deduction for these contributions, they are excluded from your gross income. Employer contributions are counted toward the maximum annual contribution.
The value of an HSA includes the pre-tax growth of account balances as well as greater control over the use of health care dollars. Consider the following: unless you have a catastrophic medical claim, it is unlikely that you will recoup the amount of money you pay in premiums for traditional health care plans (e.g., PPO).
Another value component of an HSA is the insurance premium you pay. Compare the costs of available plans, and you are likely to find that the HDHP offers lower premiums in exchange for the higher deductible, but includes the same coverage for significant health expenses and preventive care as more expensive traditional plans.
To open an HSA, enroll in a qualified HDHP and elect the BenefitWallet HSA option.
Once you submit your election, you will receive a Welcome Kit in the mail or a link to open your account electronically. Both methods collect personal information, required by federal banking regulations under the USA Patriot Act, needed to open a banking account.
You must open your HSA before funds can be deposited (including any employer contributions) or withdrawn to pay for qualified medical expenses.
The form titled, "Master Signature Card", found in your Welcome Kit or online, gives you the ability to designate a beneficiary for your account. Even if you electronically provide your signature to open your account, you must mail in this card to name a beneficiary for your account.
There are many advantages associated with establishing an HSA including:
Flexibility: There are no "use it or lose it" rules; the money is yours. It grows and remains with you, even when you change medical plans, change employers or retire. Even if you are no longer eligible to contribute, funds in your account may still be used to pay for qualified medical expenses, tax-free.
Portability: Accounts move with you when you change medical plans, change employers or retire.
Asset Accumulation: Unused funds can grow through interest and investment earnings and saved for future qualified medical expenses.
Contributions can come from multiple sources: As long as you are covered by a qualified HDHP, you, your employer, family members or anyone else may contribute to your HSA up to the maximum annual contribution limit.
A High Deductible Health Plan or HDHP provides comprehensive health care coverage like a traditional health plan and like a traditional plan; you are responsible for paying for your medical expenses before the deductible is satisfied. However, the deductible is higher than a traditional plan and must meet or exceed the amount determined annually by the IRS.
After the annual deductible is met, you are responsible for a portion of your medical expenses through coinsurance or co-payments, just as with a traditional health plan.
The deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expenses are indexed annually for inflation.
Your health insurer or employer can verify the status of your coverage. You can also check the declaration page of your policy or official communications from your insurance company for the words "qualifying (or qualified) High Deductible Health Plan" or a reference to Internal Revenue Code Section 223.
To be a qualified HDHP, the deductible and out-of-pocket maximums must meet the following requirements:
Deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are adjusted annually for inflation.
Both HSAs and FSAs allow you to pay for qualified medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. One key difference is that HSA balances can accumulate and roll over from year to year, while FSA money left unspent at the end of the year or after a designated grace period, is forfeited.
Generally, you are not eligible for an HSA if you have other health care coverage including coverage under a General Purpose FSA. However, you may have coverage under a Limited Purpose FSA and be eligible for an HSA. A Limited Purpose FSA may be used to reimburse yourself for expenses not covered by your HDHP, such as:
A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is an account established by an employer to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses. Unlike an HSA, which requires an individual to be covered under a qualified HDHP to be eligible to make or receive contributions, HRAs do not require any specific type of health plan coverage as a condition of eligibility. Only an employer can contribute to an HRA and there is no limit on the amount the employer can contribute. Upon termination of employment, an employer is not required to pay unused HRA funds to the employee. By comparison, HSAs are owned by the employee and any funds in the account belong to the employee regardless of employment status.
While there are no restrictions on the use of the funds deposited in a regular savings account, savings accounts do not provide the tax advantages of an HSA.
No, only one person can be the HSA owner. If both you and your spouse have qualified HDHP coverage, you must each have your own HSA.
If both you and your spouse have family coverage under a qualified HDHP, the combined maximum tax-deductible HSA contribution both of you can make (including employer contributions) is the maximum annual contribution for family coverage. In 2018, that amount is $6,900 and in 2019 that amount is $7,000. The maximum annual contribution can be divided between you and your spouse any way you wish. If you and/or your spouse are eligible to make catch-up contributions, you may each contribute your eligible catch-up contribution to your individual HSA.
Offering an HSA is an excellent way to help you save for future medical expenses and pay for current expenses on a tax-advantaged basis.
Yes, you may have more than one HSA and you may contribute to them all. However, this does not give you any additional tax advantages, as the total contributions to your accounts cannot exceed the annual maximum contribution limit. Contributions from your employer, family members or anyone else are included in when determining your total contributions.
Yes. Unused funds roll over from year to year. The money in your HSA is yours, so there are no "use it or lose it" rules. The less money you spend, the more you have that may earn interest or be invested in investment options.
You have full control over the assets in your HSA. When the total funds in your account reach certain limits, you have the option to invest excess monies. You choose which fund to invest in from the available options.
With an HSA, you are free to use any doctor and any hospital you choose. However, significant cost savings are available to you when you use providers in your plan's provider network. Provider networks offer a wide variety of physicians and service providers at discounted rates.