HSA Headlines - Are you making a huge (but common) health care mistake?

For millions of health savings account (HSA) users, these accounts combine the ability to save money on payroll taxes, cover expected medical expenses and roll over whatever is left toward covering qualifying medical expenses in retirement. But if you aren't factoring a few preventive measures into each year's "expected expenses," you may be spending more of your HSA funds than you should.

This week, we're taking a look at new research from Lively and some unique insights into health care consumer behavior that could help you and your family save hundreds, if not thousands in medical costs annually.

Almost 50 percent of Americans are making this healthcare mistake - Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

When was the last time you had a physical exam? If you can't remember (or if you're triggered like I am from my mom having asked so many times), you know that it's probably time to practice a bit of preventive care. But according to Lively's 2019 Wellness & Wealth report, only 54% of those surveyed will visit a doctor this year solely for preventive care services like a physical exam or regular checkup.

On the surface this makes sense. Going to the doctor means taking time off from work, most likely paying a copayment and hearing some not-so-subtle hints that there's a lot you could be doing to improve your health! But ignoring a less serious health issue could lead you with a far larger bill down the line. After all, paying $25 to cover a copayment to get a cough checked out is a far better solution than possibly having to shell out up to $1,000 to pay for a hospital room visit when you contract pneumonia.

HSA users already have an advanced lesson on what it means to budget for health care expenses, and has open enrollment approaches for many this fall and you start to weigh how much you'll spend on health care in the coming year, give preventive care expenses a second thought. It will give you the cushion necessary to cover an extra copayment or two over the course of the year if you come down with an illness, or to visit a specialist if a more advanced medical issue pops up.

And if you don't happen to spend it in the coming year, remember, any unspent HSA funds will carry over for as long as you have the account open. This way, you can keep your rainy day fund on-hand for when you really need to bite the bullet and make that much-needed doctor's appointment!

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HSA Headlines is a weekly roundup of the latest, most relevant news and conversations about your health savings. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the HSA Learning Center. And for more about your physical and financial well-being, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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