The importance of health savings accounts

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Employers continue to shift responsibility for health-care coverage to employees, according to a survey that was released in August 2015 from National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

That’s a good reminder of the benefit of a health savings account (HSA), says Brian Marcotte, who is the president and CEO of NBGH. Marcotte points out that 87 percent of employers that provide consumer-directed health insurance also offer an HSA and are expected to increase their HSA contributions to a median of $750 in 2016 from $600 in 2014.

An HSA allows consumers to save pretax money that they can use toward eligible medical expenses. The maximum contribution that’s allowed by IRS for 2015 is $3,350 per year for an individual (same in 2016) and $6,650 for a family ($6,750 in 2016). HSAs also roll over at the end of every plan year, so remaining dollars can be used toward future health-care expenses—even in retirement.

“You should definitely maximize the benefit,” Marcotte says. Unlike a flexible savings account, in which you typically have to spend the money that you deposit into it by the end of the plan year, you don’t have to be so conservative about how much money that you put into an HSA, he says.