Health Savings Accounts Should Be Available to All Americans
All Americans should have the right to save for current and future healthcare expenses with pre-tax dollars. Health Savings Accounts provide some Americans with precisely that opportunity, but it is too limited in its scope to benefit the majority of the US. I love the concept of Health Savings Accounts (HSA), if you’re not familiar with them they are savings accounts in which money can be put away for future medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. In order to be eligible for an HSA you must be covered under a qualifying high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These are health insurance policies that typically cost less because they require their holders pay a high deductible (typically greater than $1000 annually). Unfortunately, the eligibility requirement to participate in a health savings account precludes the majority of the population from receiving a privilege that should be as basic as saving for one’s own retirement.
In a recent response from my Congressman, he suggested I consider using a sister product, the Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Although beneficial, the benefits of an FSA fall short of the benefits in an HSA; primarily because the balance of unused money in an FSA expires annually where an HSA rolls over from year to year. This is a monumental difference. With an HSA I have a means to cover current and future medical expenses which can accumulate to a retirement vehicle which becomes available for any purpose at age 65. The rollover benefit becomes an even greater benefit when you consider the funds in Health Savings Account are eligible to pay the premiums on Cobra. Contributing to an HSA provides financial resources to use should one lose their job. Americans can use their HSA to pay the necessary 102% of their health premiums through COBRA or they may roll the money into a less expensive high deductible health plan (HDHP) with the resources to meet the high deductible.
Let’s look at a couple of case studies.
Dick and Jane
Dick and Jane are engaged. Jane has been submitting $2600 into and HSA for the past five years. During that time she has only consumed $1600 in health care costs that means Jane has been able to build up a health nest egg of $11,400. After they are married Dick begins carrying Jane as a dependent on his health care plan which does not qualify as a high deductible health care plan. Under current cbdinflation.com, Jane would be forced to discontinue contributing to her HSA, but it if all Americans were eligible for this savings incentive she wouldn’t have that problem. Instead they could increase their contribution $5,150. After a year, Dick may lose his job, but the family has been able to save $16,550. Their healthcare nest egg provides Dick and Jane with additional options. They may select to continue their current coverage through COBRA or they can select an alternate health care option. If COBRA were to cost $400 a month they can utilize their HSA funds. With these funds they would have the means of paying for coverage for 41 months. They could also choose to purchase independent health coverage. Their $16,550 nest egg minimizes their risk on a high deductible healthcare plan. They could conceivable absorb a $10,000 deductible and reduce their monthly payment to about $200, or half the cost of their cobra payment.