If there’s anything we learned with the COVID pandemic, it’s that your health is important.
And if you’ve been delaying a visit to your doctor because you’re worried you’ll have to deal with pesky out-of-pocket health costs, look no further!
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) might be a solution to help you save on medical expenses. Oh, and did we mention it’s tax-free? ;)
In this post, we cover everything you need to know about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), including:
...Other than the money-saving perks, obviously!
PS: please note this article was originally published on October 11, 2021 and updated on November 1st, 2023 to reflect 2023/2024 numbers. If you’re looking for information specific to open enrollment and how to apply, scroll to the end of this post.
PPS: did you know you can maximize HSA and FSA accounts by investing? Get more tips + learn how with a monthly Penny membership. Learn more here.
👀 5min read
AKA: Health Savings Account
An HSA is an arrangement, set up through your employer, that lets you pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars.
Both you and your employer can contribute to this account for eligible medical expenses. And you don't have to pay taxes on the money you add in. (woohoo!)
When you sign up for an insurance provider during open enrollment, you select the HSA option, and decide how much you want to contribute to it.
(What is open enrollment, you ask? More on that below.)
Similar to how your insurance premiums are withdrawn from your paycheck, HSA dollars also get taken out of your paycheck, pre-tax.
Your HSA cash goes straight from your company, into the account -- excluding them from federal, state, medicare and social security taxes and fees.
Once you’re set up, you get an HSA debit card in the mail. It literally looks like a credit card, and you can use it whenever you pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care expenses.
If you forget your HSA debit card at home, just pay with your regular debit or credit card, and submit your receipt (plus other relevant info, if required) through their online portal.
The online portal also allows you to track how much you've spent, and the balance on your “allowance”, so it’s pretty nifty.
HSAs are limited to a specific contribution amount per year.
You can carry over any un-spent money to the next year. And you can invest the money in your HSA account if your employer offers the ability to. Win-win!
Yes, but ONLY IF:
If you don’t fall within either of these 2 categories, an HSA may not be worth it.
Your money is somewhat locked up in this account, since it can't be used for other things, and it might just rot away in there until you have an eligible medical expense come up.
Keep in mind, sometimes other health-related things are covered by HSA, like:
But you definitely gotta check with your insurance first, since they may require you to present a special doctor's note to get reimbursed for these.
Premium: No. This is the “fee” you pay for your health insurance, so it’s not included.
Deductible: Yes! And this is why, if you have a high-deductible insurance account, an HSA account is a great way to save.
For example: If your deductible is $1,000, then it might make sense to contribute $1,000 to an HSA. You already know you’ll be billed that much before your insurance pays for a doctor's visit; this way you can get the tax benefits and cover it with tax-free dollars.
Some companies have a convenient feature, where you can pay for their services straight from your HSA/FSA account.
Batelle is one of those companies [our founder mama LOVES them] and they’re one of the fastest-growing baby sleep companies globally. Now, sleep-deprived parents can rest easy (pun intended) for 3 reasons:
So, keep an eye out for companies like Batelle, who offer HSA/FSA at checkout. It’s not only convenient, but could also help you save up to 30-40% depending on your tax bracket.
But the question remains: Which one is better? Should you get an HSA or FSA account? Let’s see what the FSA account offers first.
AKA: Flexible Spending Account
This is ALSO an arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars.
Literally the same as an HSA! Same concept, you gotta spend the money on qualified medical expenses, otherwise you won’t get reimbursed.
FSAs are limited to $2,750 per year. In most cases, you HAVE to spend all the money within the year. And you CANNOT invest the money in this account.
Maybe! An FSA makes sense for you if:
Our view is simple.
...If you are someone who doesn't have underlying health conditions, and you go to the doctor only 1x a year, dentist 2x a year, and that's it -- you don't need an HSA or FSA!
...If you are someone who does have high medical expenses -- maybe you’re going through IVF, or you have diabetes, or other health conditions -- then, an HSA and FSA are a great way to get more bang for your buck!!!
Only exception to this rule: If your company is going to put $500 or more into an HSA for you, FOR FREE -- DO IT. Free is Free. And “free” money is always a yes. ;)
If you don’t have health care insurance at all, you won’t be able to get an HSA or FSA. Your first step would be to register for a health plan instead.
And if you do want an HSA or FSA… Know that open enrollment only happens once a year, and are only open for about a month around October/November.
A window of time when you can sign up for health coverage (or make changes to your existing plan).
It’s great because you can “openly” enroll without the need for what they call a “qualifying life event” – such as moving jobs to an employer with a different insurance provider – so you have more choices and flexibility when choosing the right health plan for you.
Like we just said though: Open enrollment is only open for a few weeks during fall/winter.
Make sure you don’t miss this window!
The 2023 Open Enrollment Period (OEP) begins November 1, 2023, and ends January 15, 2024, in most US states. You can find the specific dates at https://www.healthcare.gov/
Happy saving. ;)
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