A health savings account is a tax-advantaged account designed to help cover out-of-pocket health care expenses. If you’re the account holder, your spouse and dependents may also use the HSA, even if they’re not covered by your medical plan. In 2022, you can contribute up to $3,650 if you have individual health insurance or up to $7,300 for family coverage. If you’ll be 55 or older at the end of the year, you can put in an extra $1,000 in “catch up” contributions.
More than 80% of large employers currently offer an HSA to their employees, according to a recent survey by benefits consultant Willis Towers Watson, but not everyone is eligible to contribute to an HSA. In order to participate, your health insurance plan must offer a high-deductible plan. Typically, the monthly premiums for a high-deductible plan are lower, but you’ll pay more out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. For 2022, the health plan must have a deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage.
The health plan must also have a limit on out-of-pocket medical expenses that you are required to pay. Out-of-pocket expenses include deductibles, co-payments and other amounts, but they do not include premiums. For 2022, the out-of-pocket limit for self-only coverage is $7,050; it’s $14,100 for family coverage. According to the IRS, only deductibles and expenses for services within the health plan’s network should be used to determine whether the limit applies.
The tax advantages of HSAs are threefold: You can contribute to them on a pretax basis, your savings will grow over time tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used to cover qualified medical expenses.
HSAs also offer a lot of flexibility. Unlike a flexible spending account for health care, an HSA is not a “use it or lose it” account—the funds won’t disappear if you don’t use them by the end of the year. In fact, you’ll get a bigger benefit from an HSA if you use other cash to pay for current out-of-pocket medical bills and allow the funds in the account to grow. Many HSA plans allow you to invest all or a portion of your contributions in mutual funds, and that offers the potential for more long-term growth than you’ll get if you put all of your contributions in a money market fund or savings account. One strategy is to invest enough money in a low-risk account to cover your current year’s health insurance deductible and invest the rest in mutual funds for longer-term expenses.
Typically, account holders who contribute to HSAs through payroll deductions make regular, fixed contributions throughout the year. However, you’re allowed …….