Alliance America Logo Contact About Us Articles Home
person looking at a bag labeled health savings

Understanding Health Savings Accounts for those approaching retirement

by Alliance America
November 13, 2023


As individuals age 50 and older approach retirement, understanding and efficiently utilizing tools like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) becomes increasingly crucial in planning for health care costs. HSAs offer a way to save for medical expenses, providing significant financial and health benefits, especially for those nearing retirement.

What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

jar of money labeled medical expenses

HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts designed for individuals with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for qualified medical expenses. Those age 50 and over still employed and enrolled in an HDHP can benefit from HSAs. Contributions to an HSA are made with pretax dollars. This means that the money you contribute to your HSA reduces your overall taxable income.

There are some important rules to know about HSAs. They include:

  • HSAs are only available to those who are enrolled in an HDHP. HDHPs have higher deductibles than traditional health plans, but they also have lower monthly premiums.

  • Contributions to an HSA are made with pretax dollars. This means that the money you contribute to your HSA reduces your overall taxable income.

  • The money in your HSA can be used to pay for a wide range of qualified medical expenses that include a wide range of items, such as doctor's visits, prescription drugs and dental care.

  • You can use the money in your HSA to pay for health care costs for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children.

  • You own your HSA, and the money in it stays with you even if you change jobs or health insurance plans.

  • The money in your HSA grows tax-free. This means that you won't have to pay taxes on the interest that your HSA earns.

  • You own your HSA and the money in it stays with you even if you change jobs or health insurance plans.

How much can I contribute to my Health Savings Account?

For 2023, the maximum contribution limit to a Health Savings Account for an individual with self-only coverage was $3,850. For an individual with family coverage, the maximum contribution limit was $7,750. If you are age 55 or older, you can add up to $1,000 more as a “catch-up” contribution. Keep in mind that these contribution limits include any contributions made by your employer.

How do I open a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

You can open a Health Savings Account at most banks and credit unions. You'll need to have an HDHP before you can open an HSA.

HSAs are a great way to save for future medical expenses and can be a good investment tool. The money in your HSA can be invested and grow over time. With an HSA, you have more control over how your health care dollars are spent.

If you're considering an HSA, be sure to compare the features of different accounts and make sure you understand the rules and regulations.

Understanding HSA eligibility guidelines

health insurance form with money, a calculator and pen

To be eligible for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). An HDHP is a health insurance plan with a lower monthly premium and a higher annual deductible than a traditional health plan. For 2023, the minimum annual deductible for an HDHP was $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 for a family.

If you're not sure whether your health plan qualifies as an HDHP, you can check with your health insurance provider.

In addition to being enrolled in an HDHP, you must also not be enrolled in any other health coverage that is not an HDHP. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and any other health insurance plans. You also cannot have any other health savings accounts, such as a flexible spending account (FSA).

If you meet all of the above criteria, you are considered eligible for an HSA.

What are the advantages of an HSA?

One of the biggest advantages of an HSA is that it allows you to save money on your health care costs tax-free. This means that any money you contribute to your HSA can be used to pay for qualifying medical expenses, and you won't have to pay any taxes on those withdrawals.

Another advantage of an HSA is that the money in your account can grow tax-free. This means that you can let your money grow over time, and you won't have to pay any taxes on the interest that you earn.

Once you reach retirement age, you can use your HSA funds to pay for qualifying medical expenses tax-free. This can help reduce your overall tax burden in retirement.

An HSA also can be used to cover the deductibles and copayments on your health insurance plan. This can help you save money on your out-of-pocket costs.

What are the drawbacks of an HSA?

There are a few drawbacks to an HSA that you should be aware of before you decide to open one.

First, you can only contribute to an HSA if you have a high-deductible health plan. This means that you could be paying more out-of-pocket for your health care costs.

Second, the money in your HSA can only be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. This means that you may have to pay taxes and a 20% penalty if you withdraw money for other purposes. However, once you are 65, you can withdraw HSA funds without penalty, and withdrawal will be taxed like regular income.

Third, you may need to pay fees to maintain your HSA. These fees can include things like account maintenance fees and investment fees.

Should you open an HSA?

people going over a Health Savings Account Document

An HSA can be a good choice for many people. However, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before you decide to open one. If you're thinking about opening an HSA, be sure to talk to your financial professional to see if it's right for you.

Once you have determined that you are eligible to contribute, you need to decide how much you want to contribute. The amount you can contribute depends on a few factors, including your age and whether you have family coverage under your HDHP.

Once you have decided how much you want to contribute, you need to choose how you want to contribute. You can contribute to your HSA through payroll deductions, by making contributions directly to the HSA trustee or by using a credit card.

If you don't need to use the funds in your HSA right away, you can let the funds grow. The money in your HSA will grow tax-free, and you can use it for qualifying expenses in the future. A key advantage to an HAS is that you can use it to save for future medical expenses. If you don't have an HSA, you may be tempted to spend any extra money you have on non-medical goods or services. But with an HSA, you can save that money specifically for future medical expenses.

If you withdraw money for other purposes, you'll have to pay taxes on the withdrawal, plus a 20% penalty. So it's important to make sure you only use your HSA for qualified medical expenses.

Advantages of HSAs for pre-retirees

For individuals approaching retirement, HSAs provide an opportunity to accumulate funds for future health-related expenses. These accounts not only facilitate tax savings but also offer the potential for investment growth. The flexibility to use funds for a wide range of medical expenses, including some that Medicare might not cover, adds a layer of security in managing health costs.

HSAs are uniquely positioned to aid in retirement planning. Unlike other retirement savings accounts, HSAs don't require minimum distributions, allowing funds to continue growing tax-free throughout retirement. These savings can be used efficiently to pay for Medicare premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses, providing a cushion that many find invaluable in their post-retirement years.

Disadvantages for the 50-plus demographic

Despite their benefits, HSAs also come with challenges. To qualify, one must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, which could mean higher out-of-pocket costs and more considerable risk in case of immediate health care needs. The investment aspect of HSAs also brings market risks, requiring prudent financial planning. Moreover, the rules governing eligible expenses and withdrawals add a layer of complexity that can be daunting for some.

HSAs vs. Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs)

Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs) are tax-advantaged accounts that allow individuals to save pre-tax dollars for out-of-pocket health care costs. FSAs are employer-established benefit plans. Employees can contribute a portion of their earnings to the account before taxes are deducted, thereby reducing their taxable income. The funds in this account can then be used throughout the year to pay for qualified health care expenses, such as deductibles and copayments; prescription medications; medical and dental treatments; and vision care, including eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Several key differences emerge when comparing HSAs with Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs). Unlike HSAs, FSAs are accessible regardless of the type of health insurance plan and offer immediate access to the full annual contribution amount. One significant aspect of FSAs is the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule. This rule means that any funds remaining in the FSA at the end of the plan year (or at the end of the grace period if the plan offers one) can be forfeited. Some plans do offer options like a grace period of up to 2.5 extra months to use the remaining funds or allow carrying over up to $570 to the next year, but these are plan-specific and not mandatory.

Another drawback is that FSA accounts are generally tied to the employer, and thus, ceasing employment typically means losing access to the FSA.


For those aged 50 and older, particularly those still employed and planning for retirement, HSAs offer a valuable tool to save and pay for health care in a tax-advantaged way. While the requirement to be enrolled in a high-deductible plan and the potential complexities and risks involved with HSAs should be carefully considered, the long-term benefits can be substantial. By balancing these benefits against the more immediate but limited use of FSAs, individuals should assess their health needs, financial situation and retirement objectives to determine the most beneficial course. With thoughtful planning and consideration, both HSAs and FSAs can play a pivotal role in managing health care costs and ensuring financial stability in the golden years.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company dedicated to the art of personal financial planning. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

A mother reading a book with her daughter

Your legacy is vastly more than an amount of money left to your surviving beneficiaries. Part your legacy can be the example of a life well-lived that’s achieved through proper planning.

A senior couple stressed over tax liabilities

Too many people enter retirement with burdensome mortgages, car payments and credit-card debt that they’ve amassed during their working years. Proper management of these liabilities is fundamental to your current and future financial viability.

A daughter hugging her mother

Financial planning often is motivated by our love for our life partners, children, family members and friends.

Using a calculator to calculate taxes

Taxes have a significant impact your finances and can siphon assets unless you have a prudent approach to meet your objectives.