It's Mental Health Awareness Month. Here Are 3 Ways to Use Your HSA to Access Care

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KEY POINTS

  • HSAs are available to those with qualifying high-deductible health insurance plans.
  • You can use HSA funds to pay for prescription drugs and therapy to treat a specific condition.
  • It may surprise you to learn that you can even use HSA funds to cover transportation costs related to mental health, such as gas for your trips to the therapist.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and that makes this the perfect time to focus on one aspect of our wellbeing that is often neglected. It's unfortunate that mental health services can be out of reach for many people due to the cost involved, but if you have a health savings account (HSA), it can be your ally in accessing care. An HSA is a special type of savings account you can use to pay for medical expenses.

You might be eligible to open an HSA if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan. If you have individual coverage, the deductible must be at least $1,500 for 2023, and if you have a family plan, it's $3,000. As an individual, you can contribute up to $3,850 throughout the year to an HSA, or $7,750 if you have family coverage.

HSAs are triple tax-advantaged. The money you contribute goes in pre-tax, your withdrawals for qualifying medical expenses are tax free, and if you choose to invest your HSA funds (yes, you can do that!), the gains on them aren't taxed either. Pretty impressive, and if you fit the qualifications for an HSA, it's worth opening one and maxing it out, if you can swing it. Here are a few of the things you can do with your HSA, for the betterment of your mental health.

1. Pay for prescriptions

One of the easiest ways to use HSA funds is to cover the costs of medication. If you're on a prescription antidepressant, for example, you can swipe your HSA debit card at the pharmacy when you go to pick it up. Since that medication was prescribed by a doctor, there's no question about whether it's an HSA-eligible expense.

2. Cover therapy bills

Therapy or counseling can sometimes be a gray area for HSA eligibility, depending on the reason you're going. If you're seeing a counselor for general life improvement, it likely isn't an eligible expense, but if you have a mental health diagnosis and therapy is part of your treatment, it will be eligible. You may need a letter of medical necessity (LOMN) from your healthcare provider to prove the care can be paid for by your HSA.

3. Ensure you can get to appointments

HSA funds can cover one cost that you may not have been expecting: Transportation costs to and from medical appointments. This includes those for mental healthcare, such as a trip to the psychiatrist for a medication evaluation or your weekly therapy appointments. According to the IRS, this can even include gas, parking, and tolls if you drive yourself.

Having an HSA and being able to set aside pre-tax money for health expenses can help you manage your stress levels, too. The cost of mental healthcare can be a barrier to diagnosis and treatment, but knowing you have a pool of money at the ready can help you feel better about getting help.

Plus, HSA funds don't expire from year to year, like those in flexible spending accounts (FSAs). If you can cover the cost of medical treatment beyond what your insurance picks up the tab for, you can just leave your HSA funds alone to grow with interest, or even invest them for medical care needs down the road. All in all, if you have a high-deductible insurance plan, it's worth taking a look at HSAs. Your mental health is important and having an easy way to cover care can go a long way toward helping you feel better.

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