The high-deductible health plan and the health-savings account: we tend to think of them as the peanut butter and jelly of consumer-driven health care. Yet the two aren't in fact inseparable, causing many consumers in high-deductible plans to miss out on possible tax savings, according to a recent study.
A study early this year from ValuePenguin, a financial education website, found that only 19% of health plans on the federal Obamacare marketplace were eligible for health savings accounts (HSAs), even though the vast majority of them had high deductibles. HSAs help ease the financial burden of high-deductible plans by allowing workers to sock away pretax money to pay for qualifying medical expenses before their deductible is reached and the health plan’s coverage kicks in. When a marketplace health plan is eligible for an HSA, the consumer in that plan would have to go to a nearby bank or other financial institution to open his own account — an extra step, for sure, but one that can reap rewards down the line.
Since HSAs are portable and never expire, tax-free funds can be withdrawn for eligible medical expenses now or in retirement. “They are really advantageous,” said Jay Savan, a partner at Mercer, a consulting firm in Atlanta.