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Health Savings Accounts

do anyone have one? how have they worked for you?

Sun. Sep 23, 11:51am

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this is the faq from the US government website. You can also download a pdf on them.

hat is a Health Savings Account (“HSA”)?
A Health Savings Account is an alternative to traditional health insurance; it is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health care. HSAs enable you to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.

You must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) to be able to take advantage of HSAs. An HDHP generally costs less than what traditional health care coverage costs, so the money that you save on insurance can therefore be put into the Health Savings Account.

You own and you control the money in your HSA. Decisions on how to spend the money are made by you without relying on a third party or a health insurer. You will also decide what types of investments to make with the money in the account in order to make it grow.

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What Is a “High Deductible Health Plan” (HDHP)?
You must have an HDHP if you want to open an HSA. Sometimes referred to as a “catastrophic” health insurance plan, an HDHP is an inexpensive health insurance plan that generally doesn’t pay for the first several thousand dollars of health care expenses (i.e., your “deductible”) but will generally cover you after that . Of course, your HSA is available to help you pay for the expenses your plan does not cover.
For 2005, in order to qualify to open an HSA, your HDHP minimum deductible must be at least $1,000 (self-only coverage) or $2,000 (family coverage). For 2006, the amounts increase to $1,050 and $2,100, respectively. The annual out-of-pocket (including deductibles and co-pays) for 2005 cannot exceed $5,100 (self-only coverage) or $10,200 (family coverage). For 2006, these amounts increase to $5,250 and $10,500, respectively. HDHPs can have first dollar coverage (no deductible) for preventive care and apply higher out-of-pocket limits (and co pays & coinsurance) for non-network services.

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How can I get a Health Savings Account?
Consumers can sign up for HSAs with banks, credit unions, insurance companies and other approved companies. Your employer may also set up a plan for employees as well.

How much does an HSA cost?
An HSA is not something you purchase; it’s a savings account into which you can deposit money on a tax-preferred basis. The only product you purchase with an HSA is a High Deductible Health Plan, an inexpensive plan that will cover you should your medical expenses exceed the funds you have in your HSA.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 1:45 PM

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I have used one ever since our company started offering it, well over 10 years. I have never ever lost money. I use it as a savings account, as soon as i get the check I deposit in our savings account, it also gives me a break on taxes since it is taken out before taxes same as 401k. It is also great because it makes me take very careful notes of all our medical expenditures. So if I ever have a question about a medicine one of us has taken, or Doctors visit I just go back to the file.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 4:12 PM

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I tried an hsa for a year just to see..I own a small business so I spent a lot of time investigating and shopping around. I like the concept of an hsa but what I found in my state (each state is different..I live in Massachusetts) is that an hsa did not work out for anyone in my company (4 of us). We're all fairly healthy, all under 40, visit the doctor rarely, no one takes medications on a regular basis.

What I found was that overall, we were paying a significant amount for very basic health insurance (only certain health insurance plans are applicable to be partnered with an hsa) that really covered nothing. It was very hard in my state to find monthly minimum coverage insurance that was under $275/mo. Our old PPO from Blue Cross was $410/mo. and covered just about everything. Our HSA insurance covered 1 annual exam (and beware of the fine print with these HSA plans--during your regular exam anything "preventative" is covered but not, like asking about an ear ache during the exam, etc. is billed apart from your exam and you must pay for it, your insurance does not until you meet your deductible which is high with HSA plans) and a vision exam every two years. Everything else was subject to our $1,200 per person a year deductible (meaning we had to pay $1,200 before the plan would cover anything else).

The numbers based on our usage plus the expectation that one of us would have some health issue in the next few years did not work out in favor of any HSA/high deductible plan combo. Basically, we were better off sticking with our old PPO plan because in the long run, it provided better value than our HSA combo even without one of us becoming severly ill.

I love the idea of an HSA especially for healthy people who don't use their plans that often but I'd say, run your numbers very carefully, read the fine print..we found that HSA/high deductible combos provided way less value than a standard PPO plan for our particular situation in my state. Especially look at things like emergency room co-pays, how much hospitalization they'll cover, etc. It was very surprising what we found. We eventually found an HMO plan from BCBS that had a lower deductible/better coverage/cheaper rate than the HSA plan we started with!

good luck..navigating this stuff is a nightmare!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 9:56 PM

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