Future Healthy: A look at HSAs and family planning

Starting a family is a dream for many people, the final notch on adulthood. But it also comes with many complications, like figuring out who's going to watch the baby or if you need to buy a bigger house.

But having the baby and taking care of its medical needs is also a major issue. Giving birth can cost thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs not to mention paying for 18 years' worth of medical care. Having an HSA can help reduce the costs associated with having kids, especially if you plan ahead. Here are some ideas.

Increase your HSA contributions

If you're planning to have kids or are currently pregnant, it's time to increase your HSA contributions. The average cost of childbirth is $3,500 after insurance which means you'll have to pay thousands out of pocket when you deliver.

You can ease the burden by saving that amount in your HSA, which has an annual contribution limit of $3,500 if you participate in the high deductible health plan as an individual in 2018.. Fortunately, you and your spouse can save even more money in an HSA if you're both under an HSA-compatible insurance plan, participating as two-person.

Two-person or family health plan participation allows you set aside up to $7,000 in one year, which should cover prenatal care, delivery and postpartum doctor's visits.

When you pay for health care expenses with an HSA, you get to deduct those contributions on your taxes. Plus, qualified withdrawals from an HSA are also tax-free. There's also no deadline on using the money in an HSA so you can start saving now and use the money in five years.

As long as you're on an HSA-eligible plan while making HSA contributions, you can use the funds anytime you like for you, your spouse or an eligible dependent that you claim on your taxes.

Plus, even if your insurance plan doesn't cover your child, you can still use HSA funds on them, even if the other parent pays for their medical premiums. You can use money from an HSA on health care expenses like prescriptions, specialist appointments, certain medical supplies, dental care, vision-related bills and more.

Set up automatic contributions

The easiest way to save for health-related costs is to have an employer that offers HSA pre-tax contributions from payroll. But if that's not an option, you can set up automatic transfers from your bank account to your HSA account, which is usually at another bank.

For example, if you can afford to save $200 a month in an HSA, setting up monthly withdrawals from your checking account to your HSA can help ensure you never forget a transfer.

Automatic contributions will help you save for health-related expenses even when things are going great. Think of it as an emergency fund for medical bills - you'll only dip into it when you really need it, like if your kid breaks their arm or needs multiple fillings. If you really plan ahead, you can even use an HSA for braces or other costly services.

If you're ready to start saving for medical bills, consider setting up an HSA. Learn more about them at our online resource library, including what supplies are and aren't covered and what specific procedures qualify.

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Whether it's for covering medical expenses, or planning bigger investments, our Future Healthy column will help support your path to retirement, no matter where you are on the journey. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out our HSA Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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