• Making the Most of My HSA Dollars

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    photo: double dose

    Through my employer, I currently have a high-deductible healthcare plan (HDHP) coupled with a health savings account (HSA). These accounts are like flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in that pretax dollars can be used for a variety of qualified health-related expenses. The exception is that there is no “use it or lose it” policy – I get to keep the money from year to year.

    Fortunately, each year my employer contributes close to the maximum amount to my account. Here are some of the ways that I have maximized the money in my HSA:

    Made sure I was billed correctly
    My insure plan entitles me to one complementary check up exam per year. After I saw my doctor, I was pretty shocked to see that I had a bill to pay. When I delved further into the matter, I saw that he entered in another billing code. I called up the office and my insurance company to straighten the matter out. It took a little while, but it saved me almost $200.

    Made a payment plan
    If you know you’re going to have a major procedure done, but you’re a little short on funds in your HSA, call the hospital and see if you can work out a payment plan. I did this when I had knee surgery last year. When I decided to have knee surgery, my company had just established the HDHP/HSA plan. My employer deposits money into my account once per quarter, so I knew I wouldn’t have enough to cover the deductible right away. I called the hospital and asked if I could be put on a payment plan. That helped tremendously when forecasting cashflow for my HSA account.

    Asked for the cheap stuff
    During one of my doctor visits, my doctor prescribed me a new medication for hypertension (which thankfully I don’t have to take anymore). I bluntly asked him, “Can you prescribe me something that isn’t very expensive because I have a HDHP/HSA?” He prescribed me a medication that was easily available as a generic; it only cost me $8/month to fill!

    Also, I always buy store brand versions of common over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

    Blew through my deductible early in the year
    I had knee surgery early in the year, so I met my deductible very quickly. Since I was aware of this, I made sure to try and schedule any major appointments with my doctor before the year was up, since my insurance would cover it. If I waited to do the procedure until late in the year, I wouldn’t have as much time to take advantage of what my insure would cover.

    I use coupons for almost everything I buy with my HSA account. OTC medications, saline solution, eye exams, and contacts are my main purchases. Also, be sure to check your sales fliers for stores that give out free gift cards when you fill a prescription. We haven’t paid out of pocket for much at our local CVS since we’ve racked up so many of these gift cards.

    How do you maximize your healthcare dollars, regardless of whether you have an HSA?


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