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Understanding Your Health Savings Account

HSA Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions

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Using a health savings account to supplement your current health insurance coverage is a great way to save money on your health care costs. Along with saving money on your health care costs, your HSA can get your money working for you by earning interest. And, you can save your HSA money tax-free. If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan and have not yet read Comparison and Qualification Guidelines for HSAs, FSAs, & HRAs, do that first. Then, if you have decided that an HSA is for you, check out these Top 10 HSA Frequently Asked Questions below to get a jump-start on understanding your HSA.

Top 10 Health Savings Account, HSA Frequently Asked Questions:

    1. How do I start a HSA? First, you have to have a qualifying health insurance plan. A qualifying health insurance plan is one that carries a high deductible. Each year what is considered a high-deductible health insurance plan changes, but generally it would be a deductible that is not considered in the normal range for a health insurance plan. If you think you have a high-deductible health insurance plan then you can contact your employer, health insurance company, or a number of private insured banks and credit unions locally or online to find out about setting up a HSA. Sometimes employers help contribute to HSAs so make sure to see if yours does.

    2. What if I switch jobs, do I lose my money? No. The health savings account is yours. Whatever money you contribute to your HSA you keep, just as you would in a savings account. Even if you don't use all your HSA money in one given year, the money will just roll-over to the next year for use.

    3. Do I pay taxes on the money before it is put into my health savings account? No, the money goes into your HSA account tax-free if your employer will set-up pay check deductions for you. If not, then when you prepare your federal income taxes you will be able to take a deduction for the money you contributed to your HSA that year. When you withdraw your health savings account money to pay for any qualifying expenses, it is withdrawn tax-free.

    4. Can I have some examples of HSA qualifying expenses? Here are some examples of HSA qualifying expenses: prescription medicines and eye glasses, office visit co-pays, chiropractors, dentists, orthodontists, over-the-counter meds such as aspirin and antacids, birth-control (over-the-counter or prescription), and laser eye surgery to name a few. There are many more things that you can use your money for so when you get a HSA plan, you will need to ask for a list of covered expenses.

    5. What happens if I lose my health insurance? Once you have money in your HSA, you can continue to use it even if you do not have a high-deductible health insurance plan anymore, but you cannot keep contributing money to your health savings account.

    6. Can I use my HSA money to pay for my health insurance premiums? You can use your HSA money to pay for your health insurance premiums while you are collecting federal or state unemployment benefits. You can also use your HSA money to pay for COBRA premiums.

    7. What if I need medical care in another country... can I use my HSA money there? Yes, your HSA money can be used for the same medical expenses anywhere and in another country.

    8. How much can I contribute to my HSA account? That changes yearly but as of 2007 a single person could contribute up to $2,850 per year and a family could contribute up to $5,650 per year.

    9. Can my HSA money be invested? Yes. Your health savings account money can be invested similar to a 401K.

    10. When I die, do I lose my HSA money? No. You can name a beneficiary to receive your health savings account money.

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