When It's Not Worth It to Contribute

When It is Not Price It to Contribute


You might have heard that the Well being Financial savings Account (HSA) is the last word retirement account as a result of it’s triple tax-free. Contributions go in tax-free. The stability grows tax-free. Withdrawals are once more tax-free to pay for amassed out-of-pocket medical bills.

I’ve an HSA but it surely’s my least favourite retirement account. My HSA has the bottom stability amongst all my accounts. It’s not at all times price it to contribute to an HSA.

Low Contribution Restrict

The primary drawback with the HSA is that it has a low contribution restrict. Listed below are the contribution limits of various account sorts in 2024 (double these for a married couple):

Earlier than Catch-up With Catch-up
401k/403b/457 $23,000 $30,500 (age 50+)
IRA/Roth IRA $7,000 $8,000 (age 50+)
HSA $4,150 $5,150 (age 55+)

The HSA contribution restrict is barely barely greater than half of the IRA contribution restrict. It’s lower than 20% of the 401k/403b/457 contribution restrict. The catch-up contribution for HSA begins at age 55, not age 50 as in a 401k or an IRA.

Triple tax-free is sweet however you simply can’t put as a lot into the HSA. The 401k/403b/457 plan and the Conventional or Roth IRA ought to nonetheless be your main retirement accounts.

Requires Excessive Deductible Well being Insurance coverage

You can also’t contribute to an HSA simply since you wish to. You should be coated underneath a Excessive Deductible Well being Plan (HDHP) with out another protection. As a result of most individuals get medical insurance by means of their employer, this is dependent upon the employer providing an HSA-eligible medical insurance plan. Should you get medical insurance from the ACA market, this is dependent upon insurance coverage firms providing HSA-eligible plans in your space. Should you’re on Medicare, you may’t contribute to an HSA.

You don’t have the choice to contribute to an HSA when you don’t have the best medical insurance.

This requirement to be coated underneath solely a Excessive Deductible Well being Plan will get difficult when a married couple has totally different medical insurance or when medical insurance adjustments mid-year as a result of job change, marriage, divorce, childbirth, enrolling in Medicare (generally retroactively), and many others., and many others. See HSA Contribution Restrict For Two Plans Or Mid-Yr Modifications. Don’t get me began on some employers having a “plan yr” that doesn’t begin on January 1. That brings additional wrinkles too.

Excessive Deductible Well being Insurance coverage Pays Much less

Having a excessive deductible means your medical insurance pays much less. It really works when you’re wholesome with low healthcare bills. It will possibly additionally work if in case you have excessive healthcare bills however the premiums on the high-deductible plan are a lot decrease. You employ the cash saved from the premiums to pay for the upper out-of-pocket bills.

This tradeoff between decrease premiums and better out-of-pocket prices could not at all times work out in favor of a high-deductible plan. You need to do the mathematics. I’ve a spreadsheet in Do The Math: HMO/PPO vs Excessive Deductible Plan With HSA. If a low-deductible plan makes extra sense in your anticipated healthcare bills, you could be higher off foregoing the HSA.

Even when your employer or the ACA market affords an HSA-eligible plan and you’ve got low healthcare bills, the HSA-eligible plan could not have your medical doctors within the community. You then face the dilemma of switching medical doctors for the entire household simply to contribute to the HSA or persevering with with the identical suppliers out of community and never getting reductions from negotiated charges.

Excessive Deductible ≠ HSA-Eligible

An HSA-eligible high-deductible plan has particular definitions. Simply because the deductible is excessive doesn’t imply the plan is routinely HSA-eligible.

Insurance coverage firms generally “improve” their high-deductible plans to make them not HSA-eligible. The small “enhancements” damage your alternative to contribute to an HSA.

I’m dealing with this example subsequent yr. Listed below are the high-deductible plans I see from the ACA market for the 2 of us:

Present Plan New Plan New HSA Plan
Deductible $15,000 $18,300 $16,100
Out-of-Pocket Most $15,000 $18,900 $16,100
Workplace Go to Should meet deductible first $45 main care
$95 specialist
Should meet deductible first
HSA-eligible ✔️ ✔️
Month-to-month Premium $1,117 $1,282 (+15%) $1,612 (+44%)

Our present plan is HSA-eligible. We pay every part besides preventive care out of pocket as a result of we’ve got little likelihood of assembly the $15,000 deductible.

The brand new plan for subsequent yr raises the deductible and the out-of-pocket most by one other 20%, which we don’t anticipate to return even shut. It throws in some Day 1 protection for workplace visits. We’ll pay a $45 co-pay to see a main care physician or a $95 co-pay to see a specialist earlier than assembly the deductible. That is price one thing but it surely makes the plan not HSA-eligible (the out-of-pocket most can be too excessive to qualify).

If we nonetheless wish to contribute to the HSA, the premium for an HSA-eligible plan is $495/month greater than this yr, and it’s $330/month greater than the premium for the non-HSA plan. Paying virtually $4,000 extra for the HSA-eligible plan takes away the tax advantages from contributing to an HSA.


Triple tax-free is nice however a variety of issues should line as much as receive HSA’s tax advantages. You should have an HSA-eligible medical insurance plan as a selection out of your employer or the ACA market. The HSA-eligible plan has to cowl the best medical doctors and services. The upper deductible has to make sense in your anticipated healthcare bills. The premium must be not a lot greater than a non-HSA plan as to blow out all of the tax advantages. These sensible concerns are sometimes glossed over when individuals are enthusiastic about HSA’s tax advantages.

When the celebrities line up, go forward and contribute the utmost to the HSA. The HSA contribution restrict remains to be low but it surely’s higher than nothing.

The HSA is my least favourite retirement account as a result of issues don’t at all times line up. The tax advantages are simply negated by different elements. I’m not going to pay $4,000 extra for medical insurance just for the sake of placing $8,300 into the HSA.

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