Retirement

HSA Headlines - 5/17/19 - health care savings and smart shopping is more important than ever

How much do you have saved for your health care needs in the future? That's the question on the minds of millions of Americans whether they're HSA holders or not.

In last week's column, we examined the efforts employers are taking on their own to support their employees' health and financial well-being through wellness programs, but in this week's edition of HSA Headlines, we'll look at the obstacles seniors still have to overcome in their HSA management and how the overall lines between patients and consumers have begun to blur.

HSA Savings for Seniors Who Want to Work Longer - Judy Faust Hartnett, PlanSponsor

The retirement potential of an HSA is among the most compelling reasons to enroll in one of these accounts, with the tax penalty for non-medical expenses waived once you reach Medicare eligibility at age 65. But the catch is, you can't contribute to an HSA if you're enrolled in Medicare, and with 25.2% of Americans 65 and older still participating in the labor force (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), that's a lot of people who are missing out on prime earning years!

Luckily, a road map to a solution is already available. A bill which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2018 called H.R. 6311: "Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018" would have allowed participants enrolled in Medicare Part A and a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to continue making HSA contributions after Medicare enrollment.

However, with a new Congress seated in January, this bill would need to be reintroduced again. Health care is a somewhat contentious issue, and a presidential election is just around the corner, so it's not as likely a new version of this bill will be introduced soon. But with a previous precedent in place, it will be much easier to revive and make this HSA when the time is right. As always, it's not easy to predict what could happen, so stay tuned!

$10 Billion In Annual U.S. DTC Healthcare Advertising Indicates Merging Of Patient And Consumer - Joshua Cohen, Forbes

For millions of HSA uses, shopping around for the best price for health products and services is a fact of life. But in a perfect world, medical care should be about the best possible treatment method as discussed with your doctor and your own personal preferences without having to worry about cost - you can be a patient, not a shopper. But the current health care system is not exactly sympathetic to that mindset, but given the ever-rising price of health care, cost considerations are a fact of life in America's health care system.

A new study from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice examined how marketing of prescription drugs, disease awareness, health services, and laboratory tests in the United States changed from 1997 through 2016, and one of the most compelling pieces of data is that $10 billion is spent annually on direct-to-consumer health care advertising. That number is impressive enough on its own, but the study authors concluded that all of this spending could be a mixed bag for consumers.

For one, much of this direct-to-consumer spending is directed toward doctors, not patients. Flashy marketing and incentives could convince doctors to go with higher-priced options, while patients are left to cover the cost.

On the patient side, while this advertising can be helpful for those who may not be aware of certain treatment options for some conditions, these ads could also convince patients to go for unnecessary tests and consultations. Ultimately, studies like this show that there is a lot of noise out there in the greater health care market, and it's up to benefits and health care professionals alike to show patients the best way forward for their overall well-being.

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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.

Living Well

HSA Headlines - 5/10/19 - Financial wellness programs already realizing big results

Wellness programs are among the hottest benefits trends in the country right now, so much so that we opened up a whole new ecommerce experience for wellness spending. But, while health-centric wellness gets most of the attention, financial wellness programs are doing their part in preparing working professionals for retirement and for making smarter decisions in the here and now.

Last week we covered short-term fixes that could lead to long-term HSA success, this week we're playing the long game with financial wellness programs and other interesting developments in the health & wellness space.

Long-term use of financial wellness programs drives retirement plan success: study - Michael S. Fischer, ThinkAdvisor

Financial wellness programs are fairly new in the world of employee benefits, so having long-term data about their efficacy is particularly enticing to benefits wonks like us. A new report from the workplace wellness provider, Financial Finesse, found that those who regularly participated in financial wellness activities weren't just better prepared for retirement, but they improved in financial literacy across all of their metrics.

The multi-year study ran from 2013 to 2018 and focused on 2,458 employees who regularly engaged with their employer's personal financial wellness program. Most notably, only 21% of participants believed they were prepared for retirement in 2013, which grew to 57% in 2018. Finally, average contributions to an HSA increased by 41%, to $1,319 from $934.

We've often covered in this column that the best way to take advantage of an HSA is to have your financial ducks in a row to have the freedom to take full advantage of long-term HSA benefits. This study certainly bears that out and is a helpful reminder that the best long-term HSA strategy is one that is tied to your overall financial wellness.

Consumers want more online payment options for health care - Michael Brohan, Digital Commerce 360

This is a headline that piqued our interest this week, as FSA and HSA users are typically more in tune with how much health care services and products cost, manage their benefits directly online and can make payments with their benefits cards. But for those who are not enrolled in these accounts, it can be a bit more difficult to get a full picture of your health care spending options.

A new study from the medical payment services company InstaMed found that 81% of respondents want providers to begin offering cost estimator tools, while another 71% want online billing statements from hospitals and providers (only 17% were offered this).

And it isn't just online bill paying - medical providers are also lagging behind in the ability to pay with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, which only 29% accepted in 2018.

The mobile revolution has already come to health care, but payment processing has been slow to catch up and it will be interesting to see how the greater industry will step up to fill the void.

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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.

Living Well

HSA Headlines - 5/3/19 - Short-term fixes for long-term HSA success

The long-term retirement potential of HSAs receives a lot of attention in the benefits world. While HSAs are a model for long-term retirement stability, too few companies are providing a helping hand for employees to start making smart decisions with their HSAs in the here and now.

This week, we'll examine a new approach to long-term finances that starts with short-term stability, and the impact that online reviews are having on how medical professionals find new patients. Without further ado, here's what should be on the radar for HSA users this week.

Short-term financial stability is key for enabling longer-term benefits: report - Marlene Satter, BenefitsPro

HSAs are fantastic financial vehicles for your long-term financial security, but when you factor in that you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to contribute to one, that could be a significant financial commitment for those who have sizable health care expenses.

A new report from the Aspen Institute details just how pivotal having short-term financial security can be in taking advantage of long-term benefits, and could provide an instructive lesson for those who are considering an HSA.

The report detailed four strategies for individuals to grow assets and stay engaged in the actions they're taking to protect their financial futures: routinely positive cash flow, liquid savings, access to high-quality credit and strong social networks.

In short, having one or more of these positive savings strategies can dramatically improve your long-term savings potential, and allow you to be better positioned to navigate deductible expenses and regular yearly contributions that come with HSAs.

70% of patients call online reviews crucial in selecting healthcare providers - Christopher Cheney, Health Leaders Media

Shopping around for the best price for health care is one of the key benefits of an HSA, but when it comes to picking a new doctor, America seems to be in full agreement regardless of health coverage: go online first.

A new survey conducted by PatientPop of 800 patients found that more than 70% will research a doctor's online reviews before making an appointment, which illustrates just how important these rankings are for medical professionals. And nearly 70% considered an online reputation to be "somewhat or very important," while those practices who responded directly to negative criticisms doubled patient satisfaction.

And finally, the largest group of online researchers was the 30-44 cohort (85.8%), of which 65% sought out individual reviews of medical professionals and practices. Millennials lead the way again! While it has been slower than other industries, surveys like this show the degree with which health care is becoming increasingly more digital, and information that was traditionally word of mouth is crowd-sourced and readily available.

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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.

Basics

HSA Headlines - 4/26/19 - Early 401(k) withdrawals could cause issues for millennial health care

Are we really discussing millennials again? Well, it might be a well-covered topic, but millennials are the generation that launched a thousand think pieces. This is even true for workplace benefits, since millennials are now the largest group in the U.S. workforce, making them a big focal point for benefits managers.

This week, we'll take a closer look at some sobering news about millennials in regards to their 401(k) savings, and efforts being made on the workplace wellness level that could help this and younger generations ward off future health issues. Let's dive into this week's HSA Headlines!

Yikes: 1 in 4 millennials raiding their 401(k) savings early to pay down debt - Sarah Min, CBS News

Choosing between a 401(k) and an HSA to save for retirement is a common question for those entering the workforce for the first time, but with so many graduates leaving college with thousands in student loan debt, this throws an entirely new variable into the equation. According to a new report from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 1 in 4 millennials are dipping into their 401(k) early to cover their soaring debt costs, and costing themselves even more money in the future in tax penalties (10% on withdrawals AND additional money taxed as income).

HSAs aren't much help for student debt either. HSA withdrawals for non-medical expenses could come with a 20% tax penalty, so workers taking out money to cover debt will be hit with an even larger tax bill. The same report found that 60% of today's young adults define "financial success" as being debt-free, as opposed to just 19% who equate success with being "rich."

More employers tying financial incentives to wellness participation - Katie Kuehner-Hebert, BenefitsPro

Wellness programs are becoming a fixture in today's business benefits space. (We even created a new site for them!) Large and mid-sized employers are expected to spend $3.6 million on average on their wellness programs in 2019. (Fidelity Investments/National Business Group on Health).

Wellness programs can take on many forms, from financial wellness to physical/mental health to community involvement, and many companies will provide financial incentives to employees to encourage their participation. In most cases, the report found that the two top objectives of these programs are to manage health care costs (82%) and improve employee productivity/reduce absenteeism (59%).

This could provide great news for health savings account (HSA) users; 34% of employers surveyed tie their financial incentives to funding an employee's health care account, such as an HSA.

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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.

Retirement

HSA Headlines - 4/19/19 - Gen Z leading the way in retirement savings

Millennials may be the largest demographic in today's workforce and the subject of many a think piece, but the benefits world needs to stand up and take notice of the next trailblazing generation, Generation Z.

While many are still fresh out of undergraduate programs and wading into the job market, their early spending habits show a generation that is ready to take full advantage of the benefits offered to them. This week, let's take a closer look at the generation born from 1996-2010 and what their retirement prospects could look like.

Gen Z Americans already saving to buy homes before they turn 30 - Lananh Nguyen, BenefitsPro

I may be a millennial, but this is great news for the younger generation. A recent survey by Bank of America Corp. revealed where the savings priorities are for Gen Z, and it turns out that they are practicing responsible savings from a very young age. An impressive 59% of 18-23 year olds surveyed hope to buy a house in the next five years, and more than half have already started saving for one.

To show that millennial priorities are still slightly out of whack, only 40% of millennials surveyed are actively planning on buying a home in the next five years. If Gen Z is already making the right decisions for their long-term future, they could make up the next wave of HSA enrollees in the future who are actively planning for retirement and the health care expenses that comes with it!

Healthcare: The barrier to retirement employers are helping to tear down - Kayla Webster, Employee Benefit News

Gen Z's surging interest in saving for the future bodes well for them in this current health care moment, where a couple retiring at age 65 should expect to spend up to $285,000 on healthcare expenses alone in retirement. As a result, employers are diversifying their retirement options to extend a helping hand to employees, and HSAs are emerging as a key strategy to provide assistance.

According to Fidelity Investments, employers are trying to get ahead of the ever-growing price of health care by offering HSAs to their employees as a way to defray costs. In 2017 alone, Fidelity reported that 112 new employers began offering health savings accounts to employees and that the company saw a 50% increase in the number of new HSA account openings from 2017.

With the ability to save for retirement, cover immediate health expenses AND over-the-counter medical products, HSAs are a no-brainer for employees looking to jump start their health and long-term earnings potential.

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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.

Retirement

HSA Headlines - 4/12/19 - The reality of rising health care and retirement costs

Long-term savings and retirement are topics that come up quite regularly in this column - with good reason. HSAs offer a tax-free method of covering qualified health expenses and can provide a welcome rainy day fund for medical and non-medical expenses once you reach Medicare eligibility at 65.

But what if that's not enough? This week's column will tackle the ever-growing estimate of what a couple nearing retirement will have to save just to cover health care expenses, along with new legislative approaches that could change how we look at retirement savings.

Health care costs for retirees climb to $285,000 - Sarah O'Brien, CNBC

We've been running this column for about a year, and when I started, the conventional wisdom was that $250,000-$275,000 was a safe figure to cover expected health care expenses in retirement for a couple, but we have blown far past that.

According to this year's analysis by Fidelity Investments, a male-female couple in good health retiring at age 65 in 2019 can expect to spend $285,000 on health care expenses in retirement.

This analysis, which includes factors such as premiums, copays, cost-sharing expenses, and prescription drug costs, is just what's covered by Medicare. Dental, basic vision, over-the-counter medicines, long-term care and other expenses will have to be factored into health care budgeting for retirement as well.

HSAs can help to cover everything we just mentioned, so this further highlights that a full-court press approach to retirement planning and saving is necessary in today's health care environment.

Senators propose requiring employers to contribute to workers savings' accounts - Lee Barney, PlanSponsor

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced the Savings for the Future Act, a new approach to assisting workers in saving for retirement and building their savings.

The bill calls for employers to contribute 50 cents for every hour an employee works, which factors out to about $20 per week or $1,048 per year. The bill would affect companies with 10 or more employees to direct a contribution to a retirement account like a 401(k), with businesses of all sizes receiving tax credits for these contributions.

The fact is, 40% of American adults would have trouble covering a $400 emergency expense, so while this plan may seem a bit unorthodox on the surface, it could make a major difference in the lives of average Americans if it were to pass. This also seems like the perfect place for employer-sponsored HSA contributions to enter the conversation, so we'll keep a close eye on this bill's progress in the future!

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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.

Eligibility

HSA Headlines - 4/2/19 - HSA-eligible feminine care products? OTC medicine without an Rx? It could happen!

Ever since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010, to purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine like Advil, Benadryl or Claritin with FSA or HSA dollars, this would require a prescription from a doctor. If that sounds ridiculous, it's because it is, but there may be relief on the horizon in the form of a new bipartisan bill introduced last week called the Restoring Access to Medication Act. It's a big week of headlines so let's dive in!

House Introduces Bill to Bolster Consumer Health Savings - Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)

Big news out of Washington over the past week as a new iteration of the Restoring Access to Medication Act"was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Various iterations of this bill have been introduced in the past, but this one has a major chance of passing with bipartisan support from Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

Two major developments would come out of this bill if it was signed into law. First, the requirement to obtain prescriptions for OTC medicines with FSA/HSA funds would disappear. Secondly, and the real newsmaker here, is feminine care products like tampons would be considered medical items for the first time, and therefore eligible for purchase with FSA/HSA funds.

Allowing the purchase of feminine care products with tax-free funds is not a new idea, having been included in various pieces of HSA legislation in the past. But in this current iteration, there seems to be something here to appeal to both sides of the political spectrum, so we'll be following this piece of legislation closely in the future!

Over-the-counter drugs have a billion-dollar impact on the bottom line - Marlene Satter, BenefitsPro

To illustrate just how important lifting the OTC Rx provision would be for millions of FSA and HSA users, this week a new study from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the market research firm IRI found that over-the-counter medications save the American healthcare system as much as $146 billion per year in preventable health expenses.

So if you broke that out even further, for every dollar spent on over-the-counter medicines, a further $7.20 is saved by the healthcare system. Just from our own experience in working with FSA and HSA users, having to obtain a prescription for a pain reliever or decongestant is not only an additional financial burden in copayments, missed work and other obligations, it could also delay treatment of specific conditions and prolong them. So consider us firmly in the pro-OTC Rx repeal camp!

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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.





https://www.chpa.org/FSA/HSA2019.aspx

HSA Headlines - 3/29/19 - How to help Gen X; retiring in the gig economy

As the largest group of people in the American workforce today (and the generation of yours truly), we spend a fair amount of time in this column talking about the benefit needs of millennials.

But this week, we're switching it up to put the spotlight on Generation X, and a new survey from gig economy employees about their retirement plans that may surprise you! Without further ado, here are the top health savings account (HSA) headlines this week.

Generation X: Overlooked and Underserved - Nick Otto, Employee Benefit News

While millennials are the biggest piece of the pie, Generation X (those born between 1961-1981) still make up a third of America's workforce. With the looming threat of baby boomers retiring en masse and the quirky nature of the millennial generation, Gen X has been lost in the shuffle in the benefits space, and that is having a tangible effect on their view of their retirement prospects.

According to MetLife's annual employee benefits trend study, personal finance is still the top employee stressor, but where Gen X diverged from boomers and millennials was in their personal finance confidence. A majority of boomers (65%) and millennials (67%), had a positive outlook, while Gen X workers (59%) lagged behind.

Another slim majority of Gen-Xers reported that they have just over half say they have a savings cushion of three months' salary, compared to 58% of millennials and 60% of boomers who said the same.

Studies like these show that generation-specific benefits communication is a great step forward for employers large and small, but only 18% of employers believe that creating an inclusive environment for all generations is a top priority. The fact is, employers need to spark engagement and make their employees feel valued more than ever before, and time and again, a "one-size-fits-all" solution will leave some groups behind.

That's the gist of what Generation X is feeling right now. To start on the road to improvement, employers have to come to terms with this new reality to keep and retain their most valued workers.

Gig workers feel just as prepared for retirement as traditional workers - Rebecca Moore, PlanSponsor

A lot has been made about the impact of the "gig" economy, shorthand for everyone from consultants to freelancers to ride sharing app drivers, and its impact on how these jobs can affect employees' long-term savings potential. But according to a recent T. Rowe Price survey of working adults in the gig economy, these workers are just as hopeful about their future retirement prospects as traditional workers.

Two interesting stats that illuminate these trends: first, 56% of gig economy workers are actively saving for retirement, compared to 72% of traditional employees. No surprise there as traditional employees usually have more retirement plan options to choose from. However, when the two groups were compared about their financial preparedness for retirement, they were nearly identical (49% vs. 47%). So what's the story?

In many ways, this is similar to what happens when healthcare decisions are put into the hands of consumers with an HSA. A notable 75% of those surveyed said that they are more on top of their finances as a result of working independently, similar to how HSA users are savvier consumers who shop around for healthcare.

Without traditional retirement plans to rely on, a larger degree of financial decision-making is placed in the hands of independent workers, and by and large, those lessons are helping them become more financially stable for the future.

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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.



Retirement

HSA Headlines - 3/22/19 - Boosting HSA participation and juggling retirement expenses

It's a new season here at HSA Store, with spring in the air and a new look at the hottest stories in consumer healthcare this week. Now's the perfect time to pick up cold and allergy products so you can survive the worst of allergy season that's just around the corner. But we'll discuss that soon enough -- let's get to this week's headlines.

Americans in tug of war between early retirement and health costs - Lee Barney, PlanSponsor

Early retirement is a life plan anyone can get behind, but with the ever-rising price of healthcare, many Americans are finding that these expenses can interfere with their best-laid plans to live a comfortable life after their careers. TD Ameritrade's Retirement & Health Survey shed some light on these concerns, and unexpectedly, health care cost concerns are among the top worries of those nearing their retirement years.

Among their chief concerns about retiring early, 53% of respondents said outliving their money, while another 46% said unexpected costs for a health emergency. Another interesting stat from the survey found that while 72% of those who are financially independent say health is a motivator to retiring early, another 28% say health is a barrier to retiring early.

An HSA can alleviate many of these woes with the ability to cover qualified health expenses tax-free, so it's no wonder that these accounts are fast becoming popular retirement assets.

Tax refunds are up from last year - here are 4 ways to get more money back - Emmie Martin, CNBC

With spring finally here, that also means that tax season is coming to a close, so you may be looking for quick and easy ways to bolster your tax refund. But what many people don't know is that an HSA is a quick solution to lower your taxable income to lessen how much you pay in taxes.

And here's a very important fact to keep in mind: if you're on the fence about an HSA and still want to enroll this year, you still have time to reduce your tax bill! You can make an HSA contribution right up until the filing deadline on April 15, but these would still be in accordance with 2018 HSA contributions limits ($3,450 for those participating in a health plan as an individual, $6,900 for those participating as two-person or family). That may just be the push you need to finally enroll in an HSA and begin spending and saving for your future, tax-free!

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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.

Retirement

HSA Headlines - 3/15/19 - HSA management after Medicare eligibility

HSAs are relative newcomers to the retirement planning space having only been created in 2003, so for many new retirees, they're learning the lessons of HSA management in retirement that will soon be passed on to new generations.

In this week's HSA Headlines, we'll give the millennial discussions a break for a week and examine a few stories that have important considerations if you're nearing retirement age and have been actively funding your HSA.

Making the most out of a health savings account once you turn 65 - Kimberly Lankford, Kiplinger

Once you reach Medicare eligibility at age 65, an HSA really starts to come into its own. You can still pay for health expenses tax-free, but the penalty for non-medical expenses (20% of the amount) is waived once you reach this age, it's just taxed as income much like a 401(k) disbursement.

But as Kiplinger suggests, you may be able to push this money even further. Once you reach Medicare eligibility, you can use your HSA to cover premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.

So, while it may be tempting to take your hard-earned HSA money and pay for a vacation (after age 65 you'll only pay incomes taxes on non-qualified withdrawals, avoiding a 20% tax penalty), it may be wise to hang onto those HSA dollars so you can continue to cover those expected healthcare expenses - tax-free.

Tap an IRA tax-free for an HSA rollover - Kimberly Lankford, Chicago Tribune

Okay, this is a first for HSA Headlines - two different articles from the same writer in one week. But Kimberly Lankford is one of the best HSA writers in the business so we're happy to feature her work.

Keeping with the idea of preparing for retirement, there are a number of important considerations for HSA users to keep in mind, from taking advantage of catch up contributions after age 55 (you can contribute up to $1,000 over the yearly contribution limit annually after age 55), but also what other assets you may wish to roll over into your HSA. An individual retirement account (IRA) is one such quandary.

If you'd like to move money around, you can make a one-time rollover from your IRA to your health savings account, as long as it does not exceed yearly contribution limits ($3,500 for those participating in the health plan as individuals, $7,000 for families). That's an easy way to turn tax-deferred money to tax-free money, but remember that you have to be enrolled in an HSA-qualified health plan to do so.

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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.

Accounts

HSA Headlines - 3/1/19 - Rethinking open enrollment and millennial benefits

Happy first day of March! In this week's HSA Headlines, we'll examine some novel strategies that employers have developed to appeal to the largest group of workers in America today: millennials. Also, a new trend that's sweeping corporate America as employers find new ways to present open enrollment to their employees as a matter of workplace culture. It's been a busy week, so let's dive in.

3 ways to "millenialize" employee benefits - Catriona Harris, BenefitsPro

Wow -- BenefitsPro created a new verb! But in reality, employers nationwide are scrambling to adjust traditional benefits offerings for a generation that has grown up online, is used to heavily researching any/all topics, and isn't shy about voicing their opinions if something could be improved.

A notable trend that was highlighted in the piece was the embrace of telemedicine by millennials who are less likely to visit primary care doctors for health issues. Telemedicine appointments are HSA-eligible, so employers who are looking to include more digital components in their benefits offerings should consider HSA plans.

This will give them ease of access and convenience to shop around for qualifying health services that will interest millennial employees.

Is it time to make benefits a part of workplace culture? - Nick Otto, Employee Benefit News

Our company's mission is to help make benefits election and management easier for FSA and HSA users, along with helping employers boost engagement and enrollment. In a recent piece for Employee Benefit News, Nick Otto claims that, while we should still be doing everything possible to improve open enrollment, and positioning this time period as a part of company culture.

Otto interviewed a number of benefits advisers and a trend that is catching on in many corporate circles is rebranding "open enrollment" to "benefits education," and offering a series of benefits education sessions to workers with actionable information that can inform their election choices. Advisers are also using these strategies as selling points to future employer clients to help them get more bang for their buck to bolster engagement and help employer/employee alike get the most from their investment.

The fact is, when most employees hear "open enrollment," stress is what usually comes to mind. By making benefits election a company culture event, employers can alleviate the stress that comes with this time of year and find new approaches to keep their employees engaged with their benefits.

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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.

Retirement

HSA Headlines - 2/22/19 - What retirement crisis?

Say what you will about millennials - there's certainly been plenty coverage of the many industries that this generation is actively "killing" (sorry napkins!). But, along with Gen-Z, there is no generation better positioned to take advantage of the long-term retirement potential of an HSA.

So for this week's edition of HSA Headlines, we'll take a closer look at two stories that examine millennials' prospects for long-term HSA success and a surprising new study that shows America's booming economy is changing how working professionals are seeing their future retirement prospects.

Americans most upbeat on retirement in almost 20 years: chart - Alex Tanzi, Vince Golle, BenefitsPro

A strong economy can change your outlook on a lot of things. And if you think back to the crazy days of 2008-09, there were few Americans who were overly enthused about their retirement prospects. But thanks to a booming economy, Americans are becoming more hopeful about their retirement prospects, something we haven't seen since the early 2000s.

According to a University of Michigan index surveying thousands of Americans measuring whether they see a comfortable retirement, respondents have reported their most positive outlook for a comfortable retirement than we've seen since December 2000. That certainly bodes well for the market as a whole, and with more retirement savings options than ever to choose from, Americans can put that optimism toward smart financial planning.

Here's what an 'HSA' is — and why it's the ideal wealth-building tool for millennials - Tyler Landes, CNBC

As American attitudes around retirement improve, millennials and Gen-Z members entering the workforce are better positioned to take advantage of HSAs than any that have come before them. After all, HSAs were created in 2003 and have had a slow growth process to become one of the most prominent consumer-directed healthcare accounts in America today.

These younger generations will be one to watch as they have the chance to truly take full advantage of an HSA over the course of their careers.

HSAs are becoming increasingly popular with younger working professionals thanks to lower premiums with an HSA-compatible health plan, and their potential for long-term retirement savings. Money rolls over from year to year, and the triple tax benefit (no tax on HSA contributions, withdrawals for qualified health expenses and interest earned) means that this is one of the fastest ways to build retirement savings while being able to cover expected medical expenses.

Wondering how much can you really save? Use our HSA Calculator to find out!

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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.







Retirement

HSA Headlines - 2/15/19 - HSA spending habits and more flexibility for seniors?

It's been a very active start to 2019 for HSA holders. A new, major piece of expansive legislation could revolutionize how HSAs are used in this country (if it passes, of course). And more Americans are taking a closer look at their healthcare spending than ever before.

For this week's HSA Headlines, let's take a closer look at what HSA users are really spending their money on, along with a new bill presented to Congress that could make these accounts more versatile for seniors in the middle of their retirement years.

Study shows where HSA users spend their savings - Amanda Umpierrez, PlanSponsor

Today, most third-party administrators market HSAs as retirement accounts in the hopes that account holders will use their HSA as needed while saving the remainder of their HSA funds for retirement.

After all, HSA funds can be withdrawn without a tax penalty at age 65 for non-medical expenses, so that can be a serious chunk of change by the time you reach Medicare eligibility.

But unfortunately, healthcare needs are outweighing the need to save. Lively Inc., an HSA provider, recently released its "2018 HSA Spend" report which surveyed 15,000 HSA users and their spending habits.

Interestingly, the average Lively user spent 93% of their HSA funds on household healthcare expenses, such as prescription drugs, dental costs, over-the-counter items and more. With healthcare costs continuing to rise in the U.S., saving HSA funds is still a smart choice for the future, but it's quickly becoming a luxury option for many Americans, instead of the norm.

Latta introduces 'Stop Penalizing Working Seniors Act' to expand access to health savings accounts" - Sentinel-Tribune

We talk a lot about preparing for retirement, but not as much about using an HSA once you get there. There's a little-known loophole in HSA regulations that could leave seniors ineligible to use their HSAs: if you are receiving social security benefits, you cannot contribute to an HSA at the same time.

If that sounds wacky, it's because it is, and Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) has introduced a bill to correct this issue after an outpouring of inquiries called the "Stop Penalizing Working Seniors Act." This bill would remove the prevention of HSA contributions by individuals enrolled solely in Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care. This is a welcome change and one we hope will pass and be signed into law in the near future.

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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.