Open enrollment season is quickly approaching, and I want to make sure you take full advantage of all that's available to you, especially a Health Savings Account (HSA). The HSA is a powerful tool to help you save and invest in paying for your qualified medical expenses (QMEs) now and into retirement. It's become popular as more employers move to high deductible health plans (HDHP) to reduce insurance premiums. A critical note about an HSA is that you must choose an HDHP instead of traditional (lower deductible) health insurance plans if you wish to make contributions to an HSA.
Six Essential HSA Facts
I have used HSAs for 10+ years and find them to be very beneficial. Here are a few essential facts I'd like to share with you:
1. The HSA provides triple tax benefits. Contributions are made with pre-tax dollars (free of federal, state, and FICA taxes) through payroll if your employer offers it. If you purchase an HDHP on your own in the insurance market, you can set up your own HSA online and make contributions before the tax return filing deadline. You can choose how to invest the balance, and the growth is tax-deferred. Distributions are income-tax-free if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses (QME). "Typical" retiree expenses on health care are often as high as $500/month (or $1,000/month for a married couple), much of which is HSA-eligible QMEs, including Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs (although Medigap coverage doesn't count).
Once enrolled in Medicare, you can no longer contribute to an HSA. But you can take distributions from your HSA for QME.