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HSA Basics

What Are Health Savings Accounts?

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a new healthcare program. HSAs pair a high-deductible health insurance plan with a health savings account to cover medical expenses until the deductible is reached.

  • HSAs are "the better rainy day fund" approach to healthcare.dot_clear.gif - 43 Bytes

  • HSA contributions are from pre-tax dollars, and can be made by the company and/or the individual / employee.dot_clear.gif - 43 Bytes

  • HSAs are controlled and owned by individuals / employees.

  • HSAs accumulate from year to year (not use it or lose it), and are portable.

  • HSA payouts for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.

  • HSAs accumulated capital, interest and dividends are tax-free until retirement.

  • HSAs are expected to encourage participants to become better health care consumers.

  • HSAs are not for everyone.

dot_clear.gif - 43 BytesClick here for answers to frequently asked questions about HSAs

Health Savings Accounts are important new tools for employers and employees to improve their healthcare options. For a business owner or individual, Health Savings Accounts are an inexpensive way to insure family and employees while reaping tax benefits for almost every dollar committed to the plan.

HSAs were created to offer individuals a tax-advantaged way to accumulate savings for medical expenses. Business owners who offer such a plan to their employees can benefit modestly from tax relief, and, most importantly, can realize substantial healthcare cost savings on a day-to-day basis. HSAs are not for everyone. Yet for the self-employed, and for many other small business employers and their employees, HSAs represent a breakthrough strategy that can lower healthcare costs today and increase retirement savings for future health care needs.

To those familiar with IRA, Keogh and 401(K) plans, HSAs operate in much the same manner, with several important differences. The most important difference is that money placed into an HSA can be withdrawn at any time, before as well as after retirement, if the money is used for medical care expenses. What constitutes a medical expense is pretty basic. Treating a broken nose is okay. Getting wrinkles removed is not. Equally as important, money not spent in one year may rollover to the next and even beyond age 65.

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