How to use an HSA
How does money get into an HSA account?
HSA money can come from a variety of sources:
- If an employer is working directly with Lively or another HSA provider, then the HSA provider will pull an employees’ HSA contributions from the employer (both employer contributions, if applicable, and payroll deductions).
- If an employer doesn't work with any HSA provider and invites an employee to choose their own, then the employee can provide their employer with their Lively account and routing number and they can push funds into the account electronically via ACH.
- If you are an individual making contributions directly, you can link an external bank account (checking or savings), and make direct contributions to your Lively HSA account.
- Any other person can make an after-tax contribution to your HSA. This contribution will not be tax-deductible for the contributing individual and annual IRS limits still apply.
Account holders can choose to schedule one-time contributions or ongoing monthly contributions up to the annual contribution limit.
Other ways of getting funds into an HSA account include:
- An IRA to HSA transfer: This can be done once in a lifetime and counts against the account’s annual contribution limit. Any contributions already made to the account should be taken into account when calculating how much can be rolled over and the account holder still has to be eligible to make contributions into an HSA account in the year that they do this.
- A rollover or trustee-to-trustee transfer: This is when existing HSA funds are moved from one provider to another.
What are qualified HSA expenses and how does spending and reimbursement work?
HSAs can be used to pay for thousands of qualified expenses incurred both today and in the future. These expenses are set and regularly updated by the IRS. In addition to everyday expenses and over-the-counter items like first aid, sunscreen, and menstrual products, some extra HSA expenses are eligible if prescribed by a doctor or with a note of medical necessity.
The only requirements are that the account holder had the HSA established at the time the expense was incurred (date of service) and that the expense was not reimbursed in any other way. Because these expenses are regulated by the IRS, it’s up to the account holder to stay compliant. In order to substantiate a qualified medical expense purchase to the IRS in case of an audit, account holders need to keep documentation, such as a copy of their receipt. If an account holder spends money on non-qualified HSA expenses before the age of 65, they can incur a 20% penalty in addition to income taxes. At Lively, we give account holders the ability to store various documents tied to an expense.
To access HSA funds, account holders can either use a debit card provided by their HSA provider at the point of purchase or submit receipts for reimbursement from their HSA provider. An account holder can use their HSA funds to pay for medical expenses for themselves, their spouse, or other tax dependents even if they only have individual coverage through an HDHP.
To see what’s eligible, consult Lively’s list of qualified HSA expenses.
How does investing HSA funds work?
HSAs allow account holders to invest their funds and those investments grow tax-free. However, not every HSA provider allows investment or every investment option. In general, HSAs come in three forms: traditional savings accounts, self-directed investment accounts, and guided portfolio investment accounts.
Traditional savings accounts do not offer the ability to invest, but account holders can earn interest on their funds.
A self-directed HSA allows account holders to invest in a wide range of investment options including: individual stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, CDs, and bonds.
A guided portfolio HSAs gives account holders personalized investment suggestions based on the account holder’s preferred risk profile and how long they have until retirement.
If an HSA provider allows HSA funds to be invested, account holders will have two actual accounts under their HSA umbrella: a cash account and an investment account. The cash account is where contributions are deposited and from where they pay for qualified medical expenses. The investment account is what is used to buy and sell investments.
Some HSAs, like Lively, offer first-dollar investing, though many providers require minimum account balances in order to invest HSA funds. All types of investments are typically subject to some fees, whether those are commissions, trading fees, or other varieties of fees.
Learn more about HSAs and investments.
What is an HSA catch-up contribution?
If an individual is enrolled in a HDHP (HDHP) that is HSA-eligible, and is at least 55 years old—or will turn 55 any time in the calendar year—they can make an additional $1,000 contribution to an HSA. Once they are enrolled in Medicare—typically age 65—they are no longer allowed to contribute to an HSA. But using the 10-year window between the ages of 55 and 65 to make higher “catch-up” contributions can be valuable come retirement, as it gives the account holder more tax-free dollars to use for out-of-pocket medical expenses at any time in retirement.
How does an HSA work in retirement?
HSAs are an excellent option for saving on healthcare in retirement, when medical expenses tend to increase. Once the account holder decides to participate in any type of Medicare (Part A, Part B, Part C - Medicare Advantage plans, Part D, and Medigap), they can no longer contribute to an HSA.
After 65, account holders can use HSA funds tax-free for qualified medical expenses such as Medicare premiums, long-term care insurance, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Account holders can also use their HSA like any other retirement account. Before 65, if you withdraw money from your HSA for a non-qualified medical expense, you must pay income tax and an additional 20% penalty. After 65, the 20% penalty no longer applies and they can use their HSA funds for non-medical expenses, though these expenses are subject to income tax.
Learn more about HSAs after retirement.
What is the difference between a rollover and a trustee-to-trustee transfer?
A rollover requires the account holder to deposit withdrawn funds with a new custodian. The trustee-to-trustee transfer occurs without the account holder taking possession of the funds.
A direct rollover involves withdrawing funds from an HSA in the form of a check and then transferring (depositing) those funds with a new HSA provider. The account holder has 60 days from withdrawal to deposit the funds with a new custodian—or face a 20% income tax. The account holder is limited to one HSA rollover every 12 months.
A trustee-to-trustee transfer is when the previous health savings account provider makes a direct transfer to the new account provider. In this instance, the account holder never takes possession of the funds. There is no limit to the number of trustee-to-trustee transfers an account holder can make.
Learn more about the differences between a rollover and trustee-to-trustee transfer.