A health savings account can be a great way to cut health care costs if you’re eligible for one. As we have pointed out, HSAs offer almost unparalleled tax advantages for savers.
You can pull money from an HSA — tax-free — to help cover qualified and unreimbursed health care costs you rack up throughout the year.
The key to getting the most from your HSA is to use the money for expenses that the IRS has deemed “qualified.” Some of these are obvious, such as dental fees, prescription drug costs and eye exam expenses.
However, you can also use an HSA to cover costs you might never have imagined. IRS Publication 502 details a list of sometimes surprising expenses that qualify for HSA reimbursement.
For example, the following all meet the criteria for “qualified” medical costs under current rules in at least some situations:
- Birth control pills
- Braille books and magazines
- Capital expenses — including home improvements or equipment installation — necessary for medical care
- Car equipment, such as special hand controls, for people with disabilities
- Christian Science practitioner fees for medical care
- Contact lenses
- Guide dogs or other service animals for people with disabilities
- Lead-based paint removal
- Medicare Part B premiums
- Prepaid insurance premiums
- Pregnancy test kits
- Special education for children with learning disabilities
- Sterilization, such as a vasectomy
- Stop-smoking programs
- Telephone equipment for those people with hearing and speech disabilities
- Television equipment, such as equipment that displays subtitles, for people who are hearing-impaired
- Transportation for medical care
- Weight-loss programs for a disease diagnosed by a doctor — such as obesity, hypertension or heart disease
- Wigs purchased on the advice of a doctor for the mental health of someone who has lost all of his or her hair due to disease
It is important to note that some of these expenses only qualify in very specific circumstances. So, don’t book a trip to the Bahamas in hopes you can write off the flight cost as a medical expense if you get a “therapeutic” massage at your resort.
For more details on the deductibility of these expenses — and others — check out IRS Publication 502.
Remember, not everyone is eligible to open an HSA. To learn more, read, “Am I Eligible for a Health Savings Account?” by Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson, who has used an HSA for years.
If you are eligible, though, an HSA can be a great investment. Money Talks News contributor Miranda Marquit talks about her experience with HSAs in “3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances.”