Healthcare is a major expense for Americans of all ages, and medical issues are the No. 1 source of personal bankruptcy filings in the country. If you're concerned about paying for healthcare, then you should definitely see if you're eligible to open a health savings account, or HSA. Here are three reasons it really pays to do so.
1. You'll enjoy triple tax benefits
You may be familiar with the tax benefits of popular retirement savings plans like IRAs and 401(k)s. Contributions to traditional IRAs and 401(k)s go in tax-free, but withdrawals are taxed in retirement. Roth IRA and 401(k) withdrawals are tax-free, but there's no tax break on contributions.
With an HSA, you'll enjoy three distinct tax benefits: Your contributions will go in tax-free, the funds you carry forward (more on that in a minute) can be invested tax-free, and withdrawals are tax-free provided they're used for qualified medical expenses. The result? A whole lot of savings for you.
2. There's the potential to grow your balance into a larger sum
The money you put into your HSA doesn't have to be used up right away. In fact, one of the most strategic things you can do with your HSA is put in more money than you think you'll need for near-term medical expenses, and invest the funds you're not using for additional growth. And, as mentioned, gains in your HSA aren't taxed year after year, like they are when you invest in a traditional brokerage account, leaving you with one less expense to worry about.
3. HSA funds never expire
If you've ever put money into a flexible spending account, you're probably aware that any funds you don't use by the time your plan year expires are forfeited. HSA funds, on the other hand, don't expire. You can put money into your account this year and use it 10 years later. You can even retain funds in your HSA to be used to cover healthcare during retirement, when it's often even more of a burden.
Make the most of your HSA this year
To qualify for an HSA in 2020, you must be on a high-deductible health insurance plan, defined as $1,400 or more for individual coverage or $2,800 or more for family coverage. Your health plan must also have an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,900 for individual coverage and $13,800 for family coverage.
Assuming you're eligible to contribute to an HSA, you can put in up to $3,550 this year as an individual, or up to $7,100 at the family level. And if you're 55 or older, you can sock away an additional $1,000 on top of the limit you already qualify for.
Many employers offer HSAs to their employees, and even contribute funds to those plans on their behalf. But if that's not an option, you can open one yourself. A simple internet search will give you a list of HSA providers, at which point you can review your choices and see which plan works best for you.
Whether you're worried about paying for healthcare this year or in the future, there's a lot to be gained by funding an HSA. If you've never saved in one before, make 2020 the year you start to reap the aforementioned benefits.