Health Savings Accounts: The Lowdown

By: Peter Kenny

Though it may be surprising to some people, the idea of health savings accounts is a recent development in the efforts to create an innovative solution for the health care crisis that is all too common among millions of Americans. The concept is one of significantly lowering costs by having a separate source to pay for the rising costs of health care. Most plans that include the health savings account used them in concert with a low-cost high-deductible health care insurance plan. What are these health savings accounts all about?

Essentially, health savings accounts are tax-free savings accounts that are linked to high-deductible insurance policies in order to cover the hefty medical expenses that can be incurred from a lengthy hospital stay or a serious health problem. If you open one of these health savings accounts, you will be able to deposit amounts of a little over $5,000 if it is a family account and $2,600 if it is an individual savings account in a year. These funds are used to cover the regular medical expenses like visits to doctors' offices, regular checkups, and the like. Any money not spent over the course of the year will roll over to the following year.

These are accounts are available to everyone regardless of their employment. You move them wherever you go. With such a wonderful source to defray health care costs, you have the potential to see major savings on your annual medical and insurance expenses.

Another aspect of these health care savings accounts is that you will have control of where and how you spend the money in those accounts. This opens up more possibilities and options as far as choosing a particular medical group or doctor. This savings account is not linked to any restrictive HMO lists or other hindrances to going where you want to go. Again, you have total control over how the money is spent or whether you keep the account open; unlike some insurance providers who can cancel your account with them.

One of the other attractive aspects of health savings accounts has to do with the tax benefits. With these account the contributions you make over time and any withdraws made for medical care can never be taxed by the government. Health care savings accounts can be used by retirement age owners as another source of savings for other purposes besides medical expenses. If use the account funds to pay other living expenses, the account owner will certainly have to pay income tax, but with out paying penalties for taking the money out.

These health savings accounts have very good appreciation rates since they are tax-free accounts while saving plenty of cash to take care of any medical situation that may arise. All of these factors make health savings accounts an attractive alternative to using a health insurance plan alone to deal with medical costs. Avoid getting into serious financial trouble, even bankruptcy, by having a plan that provides you the money you need to deal health care expenditures.

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