Health Savings Account

2016/2017 Health Savings Accounts

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is an account that you can put money into to save for future medical expenses. There are certain advantages to putting money into these accounts, including favorable tax treatment. HSA’s were signed into law by President Bush on December 8, 2003.

Who Can Have an HSA

Any adult can contribute to an HSA if they:

  • Have coverage under an HSA-qualified “high deductible health plan” (HDHP).
  • Have no other first-dollar medical coverage (other types of insurance like specific injury insurance or accident, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care insurance permitted).
  • Are not enrolled in Medicare.
  • Cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Contributions to your HSA can be made by you, your employer, or both. However, the total contributions are limited annually. If you make a contribution, you can deduct the contributions (even if you do not itemize deductions) when completing your federal income tax return.

Contributions to the account must stop once you are enrolled in Medicare. However, you can keep the money in your account and use it to pay for medical expenses tax-free.

High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)

You must have coverage under an HSA-qualified “high deductible health plan” (HDHP) to open and contribute to an HSA. Generally, this is health insurance that does not cover first medical expenses. Federal law requires that health insurance deductibles be at least:

$1300 – Self-only coverage
$2,600 – Family coverage
$1,300 – Self-only coverage
$2,600 – Family coverage

In addition, annual out-of-pocket expenses under the plan (including deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance) cannot exceed:

$6,550 – Self-Only coverage
$13,100 – Family coverage
$6,550 – Self-Only coverage
$13,100 – Family coverage

In general, the deductible must apply to all medical expenses (including prescriptions) covered by the plan. However, plans can pay for “preventive care” services on a first-dollar basis (with or without a co-pay). “Preventive care” can include routine pre-natal and well-child care, child and adult immunizations, annual physicals, mammograms, pap smears, etc.

Finding HDPH Coverage

Any company that sells health insurance coverage in your state may offer HDHP policies. Although Treasury cannot recommend any specific names of companies selling policies, you should be able to find a qualified policy by contacting your current insurance company, an agent or broker licensed to sell health insurance in your state, your state insurance department, or check Internet links under “Resources” on the treasury website.

HSA Contributions

You can make a contribution to your HSA each year that you are eligible.

$3,350 – Self-only coverage
$6,750 – Family coverage
$3,400 – Self-only coverage
$6,750 – Family coverage

Individuals age 55 and older can also make additional “catch-up” contributions. The maximum annual catch-up contribution is $1000 for the tax years of 2016/2017.

Using Your HSA

You can use the money in the account to pay for any “qualified medical expense” permitted under federal tax law. This includes most medical care and services, and dental and vision care, and also includes over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin.

You can generally not use the money to pay for medical insurance premiums, except under specific circumstances, including:

  • Any health plan coverage while receiving federal or state unemployment benefits.
  • COBRA continuation coverage after leaving employment with a company that offers health insurance coverage.
  • Qualified long-term care insurance.
  • Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance for:
    • Part A (hospital and impatient services)
    • Part B (physician and outpatient services)
    • Part C (Medicare HMO and PPO Plans)
    • Part D (prescription drugs)

You can use the money in the account to pay for medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your dependant children. You can pay your expenses of your spouse and dependent children even if they are not covered by your HDHP.

Any amounts used for purposes other than to pay for “qualified medical expenses” are taxable as income and subject to an additional 10% tax penalty. Examples include:

  • Medical expenses that are not considered “qualified medical expenses” under federal law (e.g., cosmetic surgery).
  • Other types of health insurance unless specifically described above.
  • Medicare supplement insurance premiums.
  • Expenses that are not medical or health-related.

After you turn 65, the 10% additional tax penalty no longer applies. If you become disabled and/or enroll in Medicare, the account can be used for other purposes without paying the additional 10% penalty.

Advantages of HSAs

Security – Your deductible insurance and HSA protect you against high or unexpected medical bills.

Affordability – You should be able to lower your health insurance premiums by switching to health insurance coverage with a higher deductible.

Flexibility – You can use the funds in your account to pay for current medical expenses, including expenses that your insurance may not cover, or save the money in your account for future needs, such as:

  • Health insurance or medical expenses if unemployed.
  • Medical expenses after retirement (before Medicare)
  • Out-of–pocket expenses when not covered by Medicare.
  • Long-term care expenses and insurance.

Savings – You can save the money in your account for future medical expenses and grow your account through investment earnings

Control – You make all the decisions about:

  • How much money to put into the account.
  • Whether to save the account for future expenses or pay current medical expenses.
  • Which medical expenses to pay from the account.

Portability – Accounts are completely portable, meaning you can keep your HSA even if you:

  • Change jobs
  • Change your medical coverage
  • Become unemployed
  • Move to another state
  • Change your marital status

Ownership – Funds remain in the account from year to year, just like an IRA. There are no “use it or lose it” rules for HSAs.

Tax Savings – An HSA provides you triple tax savings:

  1. Tax deductions when you contribute to your account
  2. Tax-free earnings through investments
  3. Tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses.