Financially savvy folks know that a Health Savings Account is a stellar tool to save right now, as well as down the line when you're retired and trying to live your best life. For those of you who might need a refresher: An HSA is a tax-advantaged savings and investment account that you use to pay for medical expenses while enjoying discounts on many health and medical-related purchases. An HSA can certainly be used as a traditional savings account, but you really get the most out of it when you use your HSA to hold interest-generating investments like individual stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.
HSAs are designed to cover expenses that fall under the deductible of your high deductible health plan (HDHP). Many people, especially younger folks, might choose an HSA to save on premiums and enjoy triple-tax advantages:
- HSA contributions are either pre-tax (if an employer offers the account) or tax-deductible (if you opened your own)
- You don't pay taxes on the account's growth.
- You also don't pay tax on withdrawals for eligible medical expenses, which is why most people use their HSAs to pay for things like doctor's visits and prescription medication.
Using an HSA to save on qualified medical expenses is a no-brainer, of course. But that's not all! An HSA is a true financial workhorse and can be used to pay for things you maybe wouldn't expect.
Here are ten items that you'd never know are HSA-eligible.
1. Service animals
Service animals such as guide dogs, seizure alert dogs, and psychiatric aid animals are invaluable companions for those who rely on them to get through the day and enjoy a good quality of life. They can also be tremendously expensive. Thankfully, service animals fall under the category of qualified medical expenses, and you can pay for them with your HSA funds. You can also use your HSA to cover any veterinary care your service animal may need, as well as their food.
2. Home improvement (for medical reasons)
Hold on, don't go calling an interior designer just yet. Home improvement projects are eligible for reimbursement, but only if they're required for medical reasons. These types of improvements can include installing ramps, lowering cabinets, widening doorways, and other changes that would make your home more accessible to someone with a disability.
3. Car equipment
Similar to home improvement projects, you can cover special car equipment, such as special handles, seats, and controls, with funds from your HSA, as long as this new equipment is medically necessary.
Did you know that you're supposed to wear sunscreen every day, even when it's cloudy, and you've been sitting inside all day? If you're the kind of person who only packs on sunscreen during visits to the beach, the knowledge that you can use your HSA to pay for sunscreen or get reimbursed for purchases might just sway you. Tax advantages and skin protection? Yes, please!
5. Lead-based paint removal
We bet you haven't thought of this one. Lead is obviously super toxic, but unfortunately, it's often still found in some homes. Older paint often contained lead because it allows the paint to dry faster and keep longer, but ongoing lead exposure can have catastrophic consequences on long-term health. Therefore it's advisable to have any lead-based paint removed in your home. Thankfully, that's an expense your HSA will cover!
6. Transportation for medical care
Need to take a taxi to make your next doctor's appointment? Are you riding the subway to see your dentist? Had an unexpected trip to the ER and are now left footing the ambulance bill? You can use your HSA to pay for all kinds of transportation costs related to receiving care.
7. Postnatal supplies
Just had a baby? Congrats! We probably don't need to tell you that babies are very, very expensive. Thankfully you've got your HSA to use for things like breast pumps, baby monitors, nose and ear cleaners, breastmilk storage bags, and thermometers, just to name a few items.
8. Smoking cessation programs
Did your New Year's Eve resolution once again include the vow to finally, finally quit smoking? If that's the case, we've got good news: You can use your HSA on fees associated with smoking cessation programs or products prescribed by a physician. Quitting cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your health. Don't let the cost stop you.
Quality, comfortable wigs are not cheap. And if you've been losing hair due to an illness due to medical treatment, the loss of hair coupled with the high financial burden of wigs can leave you feeling depressed and discouraged. Thankfully, you can purchase wigs with your HSA if you have a Letter of Medical Necessity from your doctor confirming that a wig is beneficial for your mental health.
10. Television and telephone equipment
You probably already knew that you can use your HSA to cover the cost of hearing aids. But that's not all! You can also use your HSA to cover the cost of special television equipment for hearing impairments, such as subtitle-displaying devices. And if you're having trouble hearing someone on the phone, then you can also use your HSA to buy telephone equipment such as captioned telephone services.
Your HSA can do so much more than cover your routine doctor's visit. Don't miss out on significant tax savings by not taking full advantage of all the eligible medical expenses you can use your HSA on!