Understanding Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Medicare:
As you approach retirement age, it’s essential to understand how Medicare interacts with your health savings account (HSA). HSAs are valuable tools that allow you to save money for medical expenses on a tax-advantaged basis. However, there are specific rules and limitations to consider once you enroll in Medicare. In this blog post, we will break down the key points to help you make informed decisions about your HSA and Medicare.
The Benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged savings account specifically designed to help individuals and families save for qualified medical expenses. Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible if you set up your own account, and if contributions are made through an employer plan, they are pretax, lowering your taxable income. The money in the account grows tax-deferred, and withdrawals for eligible healthcare expenses are tax-free.
Contributions to HSAs and Eligibility for Medicare
In 2023, individuals can contribute to an HSA if they have not yet enrolled in Medicare and have an HSA-eligible health insurance policy with a deductible of at least $1,500 for individual coverage or $3,000 for family coverage. This eligibility remains the same regardless of whether they obtain their insurance through an employer or independently. For 2023, the maximum contribution limits are set at $3,850 for individual coverage and $7,750 for family coverage. Additionally, those aged 55 or older can make an extra catch-up contribution of up to $1,000 to boost their HSA savings.
Can I Contribute to My HSA After Enrolling in Medicare?
Unfortunately, once you enroll in Medicare, you can no longer make new contributions to your HSA, and your employer cannot contribute to it either. The first month you enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B marks the end of your eligibility to contribute to your HSA.
Expenses that Remain Tax-Free After Enrolling in Medicare
The good news is that you can still use the money accumulated in your HSA for qualified medical expenses even after enrolling in Medicare. These expenses include health insurance deductibles, copayments, dental care, hearing care, out-of-pocket costs for prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and vision needs, among others.
Additionally, you can withdraw money tax-free from your HSA to pay premiums for Medicare Part B, Part D prescription drug coverage, and Medicare Advantage plans. However, it’s important to note that Medicare supplemental plans, such as Medigap, are not eligible for HSA reimbursement.
For individuals over 61 years old, you can also withdraw HSA funds tax-free to pay a portion of eligible long-term care insurance premiums. The amount you can withdraw depends on your age, with higher limits for those aged 71 or older.
If you withdraw HSA funds for non-medical expenses before age 65, you’ll face both taxes and a 20 percent penalty on the amount withdrawn. However, this penalty disappears once you turn 65. Nevertheless, withdrawals for non-medical expenses will still be taxed, so it’s wise to prioritize medical expenses to avoid tax liabilities.
If you’re still working at age 65 and your employer has 20 or more employees, you might choose to delay signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B to continue contributing to your HSA. However, once you leave that job, you must enroll in Medicare within eight months of losing health insurance, or you’ll incur late enrollment penalties for Part B.
If you work for a small employer with fewer than 20 employees, you typically have to enroll in Medicare at age 65, as Medicare generally becomes the primary coverage and employer coverage becomes secondary.
If you enroll in Medicare Part A after you turn 65, your coverage can be retroactive for up to 6 months. This means that if you contributed to your HSA during those 6 months, those contributions would be considered excess contributions. Excess contributions must be removed from your HSA and are subject to income tax.
To avoid this, you should stop contributing to your HSA at least 6 months before you enroll in Medicare Part A. If you think you may have contributed too much to your HSA during a retroactive period, you should talk to a tax expert or financial advisor.
Here are some key points to remember:
- Medicare Part A coverage can be retroactive for up to 6 months.
- If you contribute to your HSA during a retroactive period, those contributions will be considered excess contributions.
- Excess contributions must be removed from your HSA and are subject to income tax.
- To avoid excess contributions, you should stop contributing to your HSA at least 6 months before you enroll in Medicare Part A.
If you have any questions about Medicare and HSAs, I recommend that you speak with a tax expert or financial advisor. They can help you understand the rules and regulations and make sure that you are making the best decisions for your financial future.
Medicare Plans & HSA
HSA Rollovers and Transfers: If you have an HSA and are transitioning to Medicare, you have options for your HSA funds. You can keep your existing HSA and continue to use it for eligible medical expenses even after enrolling in Medicare. Alternatively, you can stop contributing to the HSA and let the funds grow tax-deferred for future medical expenses.
HSA and Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plans: If you decide to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you can still use your HSA funds to cover medical expenses not covered by the Medicare Advantage plan. However, remember that you cannot use HSA funds to pay the Medicare Advantage plan premiums.
HSA Withdrawals for COBRA Premiums: If you are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage after leaving a job, you can use HSA funds to pay for COBRA premiums. This option can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are in the transition period between employer-sponsored health coverage and Medicare.
HSA and Social Security Disability Benefits: If you receive Social Security disability benefits but have not yet reached age 65, you are still eligible to contribute to an HSA. However, once you become eligible for Medicare due to disability (typically after a 24-month waiting period), the rules regarding HSA contributions will apply as if you turned 65.
- HSA and Medicare Savings Programs: Individuals with limited income and resources may qualify for Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which help cover Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. If you are eligible for MSPs, you can use your HSA funds to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by MSPs.
Frequently Asked Questions About HSA & Medicare
Can I have an HSA and Medicare at the same time?
Yes, you can have an HSA and Medicare at the same time. However, you can’t contribute to the HSA after enrolling in Medicare. You can continue to use the funds in your HSA for eligible medical expenses tax-free.
When should I stop contributing to my HSA if I’m about to enroll in Medicare?
You must stop contributing to your HSA beginning the first month you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B. This includes both your own contributions and any contributions made by your employer.
Can I use my HSA to pay for Medicare premiums?
Yes, you can use money from your HSA tax-free to pay for Medicare Part B, Part D, and Medicare Advantage premiums. However, HSA funds cannot be used to pay for Medigap (Medicare supplemental) plan premiums.
What happens to my HSA when I enroll in Medicare?
Once you enroll in Medicare, your HSA remains active, but you can no longer make contributions. You can still use the accumulated funds for qualified medical expenses tax-free.
Are there any penalties for using HSA funds for non-medical expenses after enrolling in Medicare?
After age 65, the 20% penalty for using HSA funds for non-medical expenses no longer applies. However, you will still owe income taxes on the non-qualified withdrawals.
Can I use my HSA to pay for long-term care insurance premiums?
Yes, you can use HSA funds tax-free to pay a portion of eligible long-term care insurance premiums based on your age.
Do I need to enroll in Medicare if I’m still working at age 65 and have an HSA?
If you are still working and have employer-sponsored health coverage, you may choose to delay enrolling in Medicare without facing penalties. However, it’s essential to consider factors like employer size and future coverage needs.
Can I contribute to an HSA if I’m receiving Social Security benefits and enrolled in Medicare?
Once you enroll in Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. As a result, you can no longer contribute to an HSA. However, you can still use existing HSA funds for eligible medical expenses.
Can I have an HSA and a Medicare Advantage plan?
Yes, you can have both an HSA and a Medicare Advantage plan. You can use your HSA funds to cover eligible medical expenses not covered by the Medicare Advantage plan.
Can I roll over my HSA into an IRA when I enroll in Medicare?
Yes, once you’re enrolled in Medicare, you can still roll over your HSA funds into an IRA, but you can no longer contribute to the HSA.
Having a Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a powerful tool for saving for medical expenses, especially before enrolling in Medicare. Understanding the rules and limitations of contributing to an HSA after enrolling in Medicare is crucial to avoid any penalties and tax liabilities. Remember to plan your contributions and withdrawals strategically to maximize your HSA benefits throughout retirement. As always, it’s advisable to consult with a financial advisor or Medicare expert to tailor the best approach to your individual circumstances.