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Health Savings Account – An Overview

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Introduction

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is basically a tax-advantaged medical savings account offered to the taxpayers in the United States, specifically enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

Regarded as an alternative to the traditional health insurance, a health savings account is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health. Such HSAs enable the customer to pay for the current health expenses and also save for the future qualified medical and retiree health expenses, on a tax-free basis.

To avail of such HSAs, the customers can sign up for these with banks, credit unions insurance companies and other approved companies.

High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

It is mandatory to possess an HDHP if you want to open a health savings account in the US. An HDHP is basically an inexpensive health insurance plan, which normally doesn’t pay for the first several thousand dollars of health care expenses, and generally starts the coverage beyond that.

The minimum deductible on a HDHP that will qualify you to open an HSA will vary over a number of years and is generally communicated well to the potential investors.

Key Features

The deposits to an HSA can be made by any policyholder of a minimum deductible health plan or alternatively, by their employer. Contributions made from an employer may be made on a post-tax basis, which can then be further used to decrease the gross taxable income in the following year.

Besides, the funds in an HSA can also be invested in a manner which is similar to investments in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The earnings from investments are exempted from taxation until the money is withdrawn.

Further, for the purpose of withdrawals, the HSA participants do not have to obtain advance approval from the HSA trustee or their medical insurer. However, each of the account holders is required to retain documentation for their qualified medical expenses. Failure to do so can actually result in the disqualification of the expenses and penalties charged on the taxpayer in turn.

Experts suggest that the concept of Health Savings Accounts mainly benefit the groups of consumers who are either very healthy or suffer from extreme ill-health. This is perhaps due to the fact that all of the expense incurred on medical conditions will be credited towards deductible and once this is met; the HSA will pay for medications in the category.

Till date, opinions differ on the benefits of an HSA amongst various user groups. Hence, it is important that before you enroll for a health savings account, you analyze your financial status and requirements vis-à-vis the benefits of this provision.
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