By Mack Bekeza
Since 2003, Health Savings Accounts (“HSAs”) have been an excellent tool for families to help cover current healthcare costs, along with future healthcare costs. HSAs are also known to be an excellent tax-planning tool since participants are allowed to contribute on a pre-tax basis and the funds grow tax deferred. Additionally, participants are able to make tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses. Funds in an HSA may also be invested in a list of mutual funds, or even have a brokerage link for more savvy investors. On top of that, people have until April of the following year to make contributions (similar to an IRA).
With all of these excellent benefits, there are a few caveats:
- There is a yearly contribution limit of $3,400 per year for individuals and $6,750 for family plans in 2017. If your health plan runs from January to September, you can only make contributions for these months.
- There can be tax penalties if withdrawals are made for non-qualified medical expenses before age 65. This involves paying income taxes for the non-qualified withdrawals as well as a whopping 20% penalty.
- In order to qualify to contribute to an HSA, individuals must have a high-deductible health care plan (“HDHP”). This means that an individual plan must have a minimum deducible of $1,300 and minimum “maximum out-of-pocket costs” of $6,550 for 2017. For family plans, the minimum deductibles and maximum out of pocket costs would be $2,600 and $13,100 respectively. You also cannot be enrolled in Medicare.
- Finally, if you are currently enrolled in a health plan that is a part of a healthcare.gov exchange, finding a health plan that is HSA eligible for 2017 will be nearly impossible since the requirements for a health plan to be eligible for a government exchange go against the requirements for a plan to be HSA eligible.
These setbacks should not prevent people from taking advantage of these accounts. In fact, HSAs will more than likely save people money in the long term and even in the short term. With having a HDHP, premiums will be notably less expensive for individuals and families, meaning that people can use those up front savings towards HSA contributions. Also, people can reimburse themselves for medical expenses that occurred in the past as long as the HSA was opened before that expense occurred. This means that if someone needed to make a non-qualified distribution, he or she can make it appear as if they were reimbursing themselves for a prior medical expense.
Although you will have to increase your deductible and maximum-out of pocket costs, utilizing a Health Savings Account could be one of the best decisions you will make if you want to plan for future health needs, even in retirement. And, don’t forget to keep your medical receipts…you may need them later!
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