Help taxpayers gain control of health care costs.
Used to be, the only way for the average American to avoid taxes was to earn money in cash and stuff it in a mattress for safekeeping. Now, in what has been called “the most sweeping and beneficial changes in half a century”, the federal government has come up with a completely legal method of tax avoidance that even earns interest. It’s called an HSA or health savings account.
HSAs are special accounts owned by individuals that allow tax-advantaged contributions to pay for current and future medical expenses. They were created as part of the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.
HSAs may be even better than an IRA from a tax perspective, since neither contributions nor withdrawals are taxed. Similar to IRAs, HSAs are owned by individuals and they are portable. Contributions to the accounts may by made by individuals and/or employers.
Out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, prescription drugs and even many over-the-counter medicines can be paid for using the funds in the HSA. The premise is that individuals managing their own care will make better decisions and shop around for the best value.
Individuals can get a health savings account through a financial institution such as a bank or credit union or sign up via their employer. Its companion, a high deductible health plan (HDHP), has to already exist to open the HSA. A qualified HDHP must have an annual deductible of at least $1050 for self-only coverage or $2100 for family coverage.