This year, Federal open enrollment runs from Monday, November 12, 2018 – Monday, December 10, 2018 and it may be a good time for individuals and families to review and make changes to their health insurance coverage. Even if you have been covered under an employer-sponsored plan for many years and are not planning to make any changes, this year it might be time to consider opening a health savings account, also known as an HSA. To be eligible for an HSA you cannot be enrolled in Medicare and must have a high deductible health plan. For 2018 that means you have a deductible of at least $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for families where the maximum out of pocket cannot exceed $6,650 for single coverage and $13,300 for family coverage.
HSAs are triple tax advantaged accounts offered through employers and some banks and financial institutions as a way for individuals and families to save for health care expenses as they would save for their retirement. Contributions made to the account are tax deductible regardless of income level. If you invest the funds, any growth is tax deferred and distributions are tax-free when withdrawn for qualified health expenses. Unlike a Flexible Spending Account, you do not have to use the funds you contribute by the end of each year. The balance rolls over year by year and if you are able to cover your current medical expenses through cash flow, the funds can be maintained in the account for future needs.
The IRS adjusts contribution limits to an HSA each year and for 2018 they are set to $3,450 for individuals and $6,900 for families, with a $1,000 catch up contribution if you are 55 or older during the year. While you cannot use HSA funds to pay your health insurance premiums, you can use the funds to pay Medicare premiums once enrolled. If funds are withdrawn for non-medical expenses, there is a 20% penalty until age 65. After age 65, funds can be used for any expense but are subject to taxes if not medically related.
If you miss the November 12th to December 10th window, there is good news. HSAs are not restricted to the open enrollment period and an account can be opened at any time as long as you maintain eligible coverage. Call Sharkey, Howes & Javer at 303-639-5100 to speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and determine if it makes sense for you to open your own health savings account.