Retirement Uses for Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

A well being financial savings account (HSA) is designed to assist folks with high-deductible insurance policy pay their out-of-pocket medical prices, however it may be surprisingly efficient as a retirement financial savings software, too.

Here’s a have a look at what these accounts are, who can open one, and tips on how to make the most effective use of an HSA if you’re lucky sufficient to have entry to 1.


Key Takeaways

  • Well being financial savings accounts (HSAs) can be found solely to those that select high-deductible medical insurance plans (HDHPs).
  • For some, a high-deductible plan works finest as a result of the month-to-month premiums are comparatively low.
  • The HSA can be utilized to cowl prices that aren’t lined by the HDHP.
  • The cash paid into an HSA is tax-free.
  • Should you avoid wasting or your whole HSA cash annually, you may pile up a big and tax-exempt addition to your retirement financial savings.

Why Max Out Your HSA Contributions?

The HSA account has triple tax benefits:

  • The cash isn’t taxed earlier than you pay it in.
  • The curiosity and earnings on the cash will not be taxed.
  • Withdrawals will not be taxed if used for allowable medical bills.

That makes maxing out your HSA a perfect retirement financial savings technique.

What Is a Well being Financial savings Account (HSA)?

HSAs are tax-advantaged financial savings accounts designed to assist individuals who have high-deductible well being plans (HDHPs) pay for out-of-pocket medical bills. Whereas these accounts have been accessible since 2004, many eligible Individuals will not be making the most of them.

These kinds of high-deductible well being plans are made accessible by about 22% of the employers who provide well being advantages. In keeping with a report from the Worker Profit Analysis Institute (EBRI), wherever from 21.8 million to 36.8 million folks had HSA-eligible medical insurance plans in 2018, however solely 11%-22% of these people had truly opened an account.

Furthermore, folks with HSAs had a median stability of simply $3,221 in 2019. Solely 7% of HSAs have been in funding accounts slightly than low-interest financial institution accounts. Just about nobody contributes the utmost, and almost everybody makes use of it fully for medical bills.

There’s good purpose to purpose for the utmost annual contribution. For the 2022 tax yr, that is $3,650 for these with particular person well being plans and $7,300 for these with household protection. For 2023, the numbers improve to $3,850 for people and $7,750 for household protection.

Which means that shoppers who’ve HSAs however do not contribute the utmost in addition to shoppers who’re eligible for HSAs however haven’t opened one are lacking out on a rare choice for funding their retirement years.

It’s time to start out a brand new pattern.

Why Use an HSA for Retirement?

In keeping with a Wall Avenue Journal interview with Michael Kitces, the previous director of monetary planning at Pinnacle Advisory Group Inc. in Columbia, Md, HSAs are “probably the most tax-preferred account accessible.”

He additionally suggested, “Utilizing one to avoid wasting for retirement medical bills is a greater technique than utilizing retirement accounts” corresponding to an organization 401(ok) or an Particular person Retirement Account (IRA).

Advantages of an HSA

Your contributions to an HSA will be made through payroll deductions, or from your personal funds should you’re self-employed. They’re tax-deductible, even should you do not itemize your taxes. The cash paid into an HSA is taken into account “pre-tax,” which means that it reduces your federal and state earnings tax legal responsibility—and so they’re not topic to FICA taxes, both.

Your account stability grows tax-free. Any curiosity, dividends, or capital features you earn are non-taxable.

Any contributions your employer makes to your HSA will not be included in your taxable earnings.

Withdrawals for certified medical bills are tax-free. This can be a key manner through which an HSA is superior to a standard 401(ok) or IRA as a retirement automobile. As soon as you start to withdraw funds from these plans, you pay earnings tax on that cash no matter how the funds are used.

In contrast to a 401(ok) or IRA, an HSA doesn’t require the account holder to start withdrawing funds at a sure age. The account can stay untouched so long as you want, though you’re not allowed to contribute when you enroll in Medicare. You develop into eligible for Medicare at age 65.

What’s extra, the stability will be carried over from yr to yr; you aren’t legally obligated to “use it or lose it,” as with a versatile spending account (FSA). An HSA can transfer with you to a brand new job, too. You personal the account, not your employer, which implies the account is totally moveable and goes when and the place you do.

Who Can Open an HSA?

To qualify for an HSA, you will need to have a high-deductible well being plan and no different medical insurance. It’s essential to not but qualify for Medicare, and also you can’t be claimed as a depending on another person’s tax return.

A main concern many shoppers have about foregoing a most well-liked supplier group (PPO), well being upkeep group (HMO), or different medical insurance in favor of a high-deductible well being plan is that they won’t be able to afford their medical bills.

In 2022, the deductible for an HDHP is not less than $1,400 for self-only protection and $2,800 for household protection. The figures rise in 2023 to $1,500 for people and $3,000 for households. Be aware that that is the minimal. A high-deductible plan could set a bigger deductible.

Relying in your protection, your annual out-of-pocket bills in 2022 might run as excessive as $7,050 for particular person protection or $14,100 for household protection beneath an HDHP. The utmost will increase to $7,500 and $15,000 in 2023.

These excessive potential bills are one purpose these plans are extra fashionable amongst prosperous households who will profit from the tax benefits and might afford the chance.


Nevertheless, a lower-deductible plan corresponding to a most well-liked supplier group (PPO) might even have excessive prices since you’re paying the additional cash no matter your precise medical bills that yr. With an HDHP, you are spending extra carefully matches your precise healthcare prices.

In fact, if you understand your healthcare prices for the yr are prone to be excessive—a lady who’s pregnant, for example, or anybody with a power medical situation—a well being plan with a excessive deductible might not be the only option. However understand that HDHPs utterly cowl some preventive care companies earlier than you meet your deductible.

All in all, an HDHP is likely to be extra budget-friendly than you suppose—particularly when you think about its benefits for retirement. Let’s check out how you possibly can be utilizing the options of an HSA to assist fund your retirement.

Max Out Contributions by Age 65

As talked about above, your HSA contributions are tax-deductible till you join Medicare. The 2023 contribution limits are $3,850 for people and $7,750 for household protection, together with employer contributions. The contribution limits are adjusted yearly for inflation.


The contribution restrict for a household HSA in 2022. The contribution restrict for a person is $3,650.

When you have an HSA and also you’re 55 or older, you can also make an additional “catch-up” contribution of $1,000 per yr and a partner who’s 55 or older can do the identical if every of you has your personal HSA account.

You may contribute as much as the utmost no matter your earnings, and your total contribution is tax-deductible. You may even contribute in years when you don’t have any earnings. You may as well contribute should you’re self-employed.

“Maxing out contributions earlier than age 65 means that you can save for basic retirement bills past medical bills,” says Mark Hebner, founder and president of Index Fund Advisors Inc. in Irvine, Calif., and creator of “Index Funds: The 12-Step Restoration Program for Lively Buyers.” “Though you’ll not obtain the tax exemption,” Hebner provides, “it offers retirees extra entry to extra assets to fund basic dwelling bills.”

Do not Spend Your Contributions

This may occasionally sound counterintuitive, however we’re taking a look at an HSA primarily as an funding software. Granted, the essential thought behind an HSA is to offer folks with a high-deductible well being plan a tax break to make their out-of-pocket medical bills extra manageable.

However that triple tax benefit signifies that one of the simplest ways to make use of an HSA is to deal with it as an funding software that may enhance your monetary image in retirement. And one of the simplest ways to do this is to spend little or none of your HSA contributions throughout your working years and pay money out of pocket on your medical payments.

In different phrases, consider your HSA contributions the identical manner you consider your contributions to some other retirement account: untouchable till you retire. Keep in mind, the IRS doesn’t require you to take distributions out of your HSA in any yr, earlier than or throughout retirement.

Should you completely should spend a few of your contributions earlier than retirement, you’ll want to spend them on certified medical bills. These distributions will not be taxable. In case you are pressured to spend the cash on anything earlier than you’re 65, you’ll pay a 20% penalty in addition to the earnings tax on the withdrawals. 

Make investments Your Contributions Correctly

The important thing to maximizing your unspent contributions, after all, is to take a position them correctly. Your funding technique needs to be much like the one you’re utilizing on your different retirement property, corresponding to a 401(ok) plan or an IRA. When deciding tips on how to make investments your HSA property, make certain to contemplate your portfolio as an entire so your total diversification technique and threat profile are the place you need them to be.

Your employer would possibly make it simple so that you can open an HSA with a specific administrator, however the alternative of the place to place your cash is yours. An HSA isn’t as restrictive as a 401(ok); it’s extra like an IRA.

Since some directors solely allow you to put your cash in a financial savings account, the place you’ll barely earn any curiosity, make certain to buy round for a plan with high-quality, low-cost funding choices, corresponding to Vanguard or Constancy funds. 

How A lot May You Obtain?

Let’s do some simple arithmetic to see how handsomely this HSA financial savings and funding technique can repay.

We’ll use one thing near a best-case state of affairs and say that you just’re presently 21, you make the utmost allowable contribution yearly to a self-only plan, and also you contribute yearly till you’re 65. We’ll assume that you just make investments all of your contributions, mechanically reinvest all of your returns within the inventory market incomes a median annual return of 8% and that your plan has no charges. By retirement, your HSA would have greater than $1.2 million.

What a few extra conservative estimate? Suppose you’re now 40 years previous and also you solely put in $100 monthly till you’re 65. You retain your funding selections conservative and earn a median annual return of three%. You’d nonetheless find yourself with almost $45,000 by retirement.

Check out an on-line HSA calculator to play with the numbers on your personal state of affairs.

Maximize Your HSA Belongings

Listed below are some choices for utilizing your gathered HSA contributions and funding returns in retirement. Keep in mind, distributions for certified medical bills will not be taxable, so that you need to use the cash completely for these bills as a lot as doable. There are not any required minimal distributions, so you may preserve the cash invested till you want it.

Should you should use withdrawals for an additional goal, the cash will likely be taxable. Nevertheless, after age 65, you gained’t owe the 20% penalty. Utilizing HSA property for functions apart from certified medical bills is usually much less detrimental to your funds when you’ve reached retirement age as a result of it’s possible you’ll be in a decrease tax bracket should you’ve stopped working, diminished your hours, or modified jobs.

Timing Is Every part

By ready so long as doable to spend your HSA property, you maximize your potential funding returns and provides your self as a lot cash as doable to work with. You’ll additionally need to take into account market fluctuations when taking distributions, the identical manner you’ll when taking distributions from an funding account. You clearly need to keep away from promoting investments at a loss to pay for medical bills.

Select a Beneficiary

If you open your HSA, you can be requested to designate a beneficiary to whom any funds nonetheless within the account ought to go upon your loss of life.

Should you’re married, the most effective particular person to decide on is your partner as a result of they will inherit the stability tax-free. (As with all funding with a beneficiary, nonetheless, it’s best to revisit your designations on occasion as a result of loss of life, divorce, or different life adjustments could alter your selections.) 

Anybody else you permit your HSA to will likely be topic to tax on the plan’s honest market worth once they inherit it. 

Your plan administrator could have a designation-of-beneficiary kind you may fill out to formalize your alternative.

Pay Well being Bills in Retirement

Constancy Investments’ most up-to-date Retirement Well being Care Price survey calculates that the price of healthcare all through retirement for a pair who each flip 65 in 2021 is $300,000, up from $295,000 in 2020, a rise of 1.7%.

The cash saved in an HSA may help with such skyrocketing prices.

Certified funds for which tax-free HSA withdrawals will be made embrace:

  • Workplace-visit copayments
  • Medical health insurance deductibles
  • Dental bills
  • Imaginative and prescient care (eye exams and eyeglasses)
  • Prescribed drugs and insulin
  • Medicare premiums
  • A portion of the premiums for a tax-qualified long-term care insurance coverage coverage
  • Listening to aids
  • Hospital and bodily remedy payments
  • Wheelchairs and walkers
  • X-rays

You may as well use your HSA stability to pay for in-home nursing care, retirement group charges for lifetime care, long-term care companies, nursing dwelling charges, and meals and lodging which can be mandatory whereas acquiring medical care away from dwelling. You may even use your HSA for modifications, corresponding to ramps, seize bars, and handrails, that make your private home simpler to make use of as you age.

One technique is likely to be to bunch certified medical prices right into a single yr and faucet the HSA for tax-free funds to pay them, in contrast with withdrawing from different retirement accounts that might set off taxable earnings.

“Utilizing HSA cash to pay for medical bills and long-term care insurance coverage in retirement is a good profit for buyers given the tax exemption on any withdrawals made to fund both,” says Hebner. “In different phrases, it’s probably the most cost-effective strategy to fund these bills as a result of they supply buyers the best after-tax worth.” 

Additionally, observe that there are limitations on how a lot you may pay tax-free for long-term care insurance coverage based mostly in your age.

Reimburse Your self for Bills

With an HSA you aren’t required to take a distribution to reimburse your self in the identical yr you incur a specific medical expense. The important thing limitation is you could’t use an HSA stability to reimburse your self for medical bills you incurred earlier than you established the account.

So preserve your receipts for all healthcare bills you pay out of pocket after you determine your HSA. If in your later years, you end up with more cash in your HSA than you understand what to do with, you should use your HSA stability to reimburse your self for these earlier bills.

Warnings About HSA Retirement Use

The methods described on this article are based mostly on federal tax regulation. Most states comply with federal tax regulation in relation to HSAs, however not all do. Even should you stay in a state that taxes HSAs, you’ll nonetheless get federal tax advantages.

The taxation of those plans might change sooner or later at both the state or federal ranges. The plans might even be eradicated altogether, but when that occurs, we’d probably see the present account holders exempted, as was the case with Archer MSAs.

How Can I Qualify to Open a Well being Financial savings Account (HSA)?

The HSA is accessible solely to individuals who select a high-deductible medical insurance plan. Granted, a high-deductible plan isn’t for everybody. The month-to-month premiums are decrease however the potential prices are greater.

Excessive-deductible plans finest swimsuit people who find themselves presently wholesome, haven’t any ongoing medical points that require common remedy, and dislike paying extra month-to-month than they must in premiums. It helps if additionally they have sufficient financial savings to bear the prices of an surprising medical disaster.

In any case, that is what the HSA is meant to do: it helps cowl prices that are not lined by the insurance coverage.

What Can I Use My HSA for After Retiring?

When you’re 65, you should use the cash for any goal. If the aim is a professional medical expense, the withdrawal is tax-free. If it is for some other goal, the withdrawal is taxable as earnings.

You will not, nonetheless, be topic to the 20% penalty for non-medical use of the funds. That’s imposed solely on folks beneath age 65.

Can I Use My HSA Account to Pay My Insurance coverage Premium?

No. The month-to-month insurance coverage premium doesn’t qualify as an eligible medical expense. You may, nonetheless, use it to reimburse your self for deductibles and copays.

The Backside Line

A well being financial savings account, accessible to shoppers who select a high-deductible well being plan, has been largely neglected as an funding software, however with its triple tax benefit, it offers a superb strategy to save, make investments, and take distributions with out paying taxes.

The following time you’re selecting a medical insurance plan, take a better have a look at whether or not a high-deductible well being plan would possibly be just right for you. If that’s the case, open an HSA and begin contributing as quickly as you’re eligible.

By maximizing your contributions, investing them, and leaving the stability untouched till retirement, you’ll generate a big addition to your different retirement choices.

In fact, you may’t let the financial savings tail wag the medical canine. Hoarding your HSA monies slightly than attending to your well being is not advisable. Nevertheless, should you’re financially ready to make use of post-tax {dollars} on your present healthcare prices whereas saving your pre-tax HSA {dollars} for later, you possibly can construct a pleasant nest egg to make use of in retirement.

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