Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

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cswift01
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Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

Dear all,

So, I'm a fairly healthy person. I have realized only now (I know its late!), in my late 30s that we could have a health savings account (HSA) if we change our healthcare plan to a HDHP plan. I'm seriously considering going that route because (a) I use very little of the doctor, (b) I could use all the money that accumulates in the HSA as a tax-free payment for things that normally my healthcare plan would not even cover such as Lasik or dental treatments and (c) it's another tax-free investing vehicle.

I would like to ask comments from anyone on the forum (seriously anything you know is great!) about your experience with a HDHP/HSA plan.

I can only choose between GEHA and Mail Handlers (MH) and I'm leaning towards MH because (a) they have a much better customer service rating and (b) provide me with a larger monthly return (GEHA's cost is $56.70 bi-weekly, the return is $750, MH's cost is $66.16 bi-weekly, the return is $900). The MH deductible is higher than GEHA, which is a downside.

In any case some of the things I would like to know:

1. Any experience with either service in terms of an HDHP/HSA?
2. GEHA uses HSA Bank and MH uses HealthEquity. Any experiences with either HSA administrator? Please elaborate on your experiences as well as pros/cons.
3. I have read that if I elect to put money into an HSA via MyPay that it is paid for "pre-tax." I have looked everywhere and found conflicting evidence if "pre-tax" means before or after FICA. Any insight on that?
4. Any suggestions/pitfalls to consider with an HDHP/HSA?

As an added note, I've googled both companies, I have downloaded their information and I have searched into their HSA administrators. I have found good and bad stories from all angles and I've dealt with the people at my federal organization that know a little about HSAs. The questions above were not answerable by them.

Thanks for any replies.

Best,

Me

Carmen909
Posts: 109
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:16 am

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by Carmen909 »

cswift01 wrote:Dear all,

So, I'm a fairly healthy person. I have realized only now (I know its late!), in my late 30s that we could have a health savings account (HSA) if we change our healthcare plan to a HDHP plan. I'm seriously considering going that route because (a) I use very little of the doctor, (b) I could use all the money that accumulates in the HSA as a tax-free payment for things that normally my healthcare plan would not even cover such as Lasik or dental treatments and (c) it's another tax-free investing vehicle.

I would like to ask comments from anyone on the forum (seriously anything you know is great!) about your experience with a HDHP/HSA plan.

I can only choose between GEHA and Mail Handlers (MH) and I'm leaning towards MH because (a) they have a much better customer service rating and (b) provide me with a larger monthly return (GEHA's cost is $56.70 bi-weekly, the return is $750, MH's cost is $66.16 bi-weekly, the return is $900). The MH deductible is higher than GEHA, which is a downside.

In any case some of the things I would like to know:

1. Any experience with either service in terms of an HDHP/HSA?
2. GEHA uses HSA Bank and MH uses HealthEquity. Any experiences with either HSA administrator? Please elaborate on your experiences as well as pros/cons.
3. I have read that if I elect to put money into an HSA via MyPay that it is paid for "pre-tax." I have looked everywhere and found conflicting evidence if "pre-tax" means before or after FICA. Any insight on that?
4. Any suggestions/pitfalls to consider with an HDHP/HSA?

As an added note, I've googled both companies, I have downloaded their information and I have searched into their HSA administrators. I have found good and bad stories from all angles and I've dealt with the people at my federal organization that know a little about HSAs. The questions above were not answerable by them.

Thanks for any replies.

Best,

Me


HSA's are relatively new, so don't worry about having missed the boat.

I have the Aetna HDHP, which doesn't seem to be available to you. Geha was also an option. I chose Aetna because their satisfaction reviews were only slightly higher. Everything else seemed to be equal.

FICA is calculated after HSA and health insurance premiums are deducted. I know this because I calculate it myself on my paycheck.

Overall, I'm happy that I chose HDHP/HSA. I max it out, because if I don't use it, it rolls over to the next year and can even be invested. The downside is the deductible, but if you rarely use insurance or if you have expensive medical costs or prescriptions it pays off. Even if not, I still think it's worth it.

Also, if it's available to you, also do the LEX HCFSA. It is an HSA account for dental and vision including for LASIK. The downside is that no more than $500 in your account rolls over every year. So, it's use or lose. But if you get LASIK you'll probably use it all. Also, your account doesn't have to be fully funded to use the amount you have designated to contribute. So if you submitted a plan to put in $1200 for the year at $100 a month, and you go to the dentist in February and pay $600 for a procedure you can use the account to pay the full $600 even though you may only have funded the account with $200 so far. Hope that makes sense.

dstancil
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:20 pm

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by dstancil »

I love having an HSA. I currently use GEHA HDHP with HSA Bank. I've had no issues with HSA Bank as a handler. I'm 30 and do not use the doctor often. I primarily utilize my HSA to pay for dental / vision expenses not covered under EyeMED (GEHA included eye insurance) and my additional dental insurance. GEHA does offer some limited dental benefits in their HDHP. Not familiar with anything in regards to Mail Handlers.

I would look hard again at the numbers regarding the pass through contributions, deductibles, and monthly premiums. If MH is 20$ more per month in premium that is 240 / year over GEHA. MH offers an extra 150$ in pass through contributions. Still out 90$ more per year than GEHA. Add on to that the fact that MH has a higher deductible I don't see the real benefit unless there is something very specific that MH offers over GEHA.

I don't really see any pitfall to an HSA. Not to get too political but I think the HSA model is just fantastic for people who are generally healthy and require health insurance only in an emergency situation. The cost savings over the course of 10 years as opposed to a low deductible and coinsurance plan is substantial if you run the numbers and take into consideration your real world needs.

As far as my experience with GEHA. I've had nothing bad as of yet. When I've gone to the dentist, the eye doctor, or a physician they have worked very well with GEHA and I know exactly what the cost will be. I have not had to get anything preauthorized but if you delve into the paperwork on their website and spend some time getting familiar with your policy they spell things out fairly well.

There are fees associated with the investing side of things. I've kept a full year of deductible not invested that I have access to instantly if I need it. Everything over is invested.

Love having my HSA. I tell everyone in my age group that they should have one.

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Aitrus
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by Aitrus »

My FEHB is with BlueCross/BlueShield, and I use FSAFEDS. Since I have a couple of young kids (one with a medical condition), dental and medical copays are reimbursed easily. The program works well.
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BabaYaga
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Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:43 am

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by BabaYaga »

I have GEHA as well and love it. Use HSAbank to invest. If you are fairly healthy I think it is the best deal going. Think I have about 14k sitting in it atm. I did it for the tax benefits as well.

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evilanne
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by evilanne »

cswift01 wrote:3. I have read that if I elect to put money into an HSA via MyPay that it is paid for "pre-tax." I have looked everywhere and found conflicting evidence if "pre-tax" means before or after FICA. Any insight on that?

Look at your Leave & Earning Statement, if it is under "NONTAXABLE WAGES" then FICA (OASDI & Medicare) is not applicable, if it is "TAX DEFERRED WAGES" like TSP then FICA applies.
If you look at your W-2,
BLOCK 3 & 5 SocSec Wages = GROSS PAY - FEHB - FSA-HC (amount(s) shown in block 14)
BLOCK 1 Wages = SS Wages - Traditional TSP (Roth is after tax, both show in block 12 with Gov't share of medical)

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cswift01
Posts: 819
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:46 am

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

Carmen909 wrote:
cswift01 wrote:Dear all,

So, I'm a fairly healthy person. I have realized only now (I know its late!), in my late 30s that we could have a health savings account (HSA) if we change our healthcare plan to a HDHP plan. I'm seriously considering going that route because (a) I use very little of the doctor, (b) I could use all the money that accumulates in the HSA as a tax-free payment for things that normally my healthcare plan would not even cover such as Lasik or dental treatments and (c) it's another tax-free investing vehicle.

I would like to ask comments from anyone on the forum (seriously anything you know is great!) about your experience with a HDHP/HSA plan.

I can only choose between GEHA and Mail Handlers (MH) and I'm leaning towards MH because (a) they have a much better customer service rating and (b) provide me with a larger monthly return (GEHA's cost is $56.70 bi-weekly, the return is $750, MH's cost is $66.16 bi-weekly, the return is $900). The MH deductible is higher than GEHA, which is a downside.

In any case some of the things I would like to know:

1. Any experience with either service in terms of an HDHP/HSA?
2. GEHA uses HSA Bank and MH uses HealthEquity. Any experiences with either HSA administrator? Please elaborate on your experiences as well as pros/cons.
3. I have read that if I elect to put money into an HSA via MyPay that it is paid for "pre-tax." I have looked everywhere and found conflicting evidence if "pre-tax" means before or after FICA. Any insight on that?
4. Any suggestions/pitfalls to consider with an HDHP/HSA?

As an added note, I've googled both companies, I have downloaded their information and I have searched into their HSA administrators. I have found good and bad stories from all angles and I've dealt with the people at my federal organization that know a little about HSAs. The questions above were not answerable by them.

Thanks for any replies.

Best,

Me


HSA's are relatively new, so don't worry about having missed the boat.

I have the Aetna HDHP, which doesn't seem to be available to you. Geha was also an option. I chose Aetna because their satisfaction reviews were only slightly higher. Everything else seemed to be equal.

FICA is calculated after HSA and health insurance premiums are deducted. I know this because I calculate it myself on my paycheck.

Overall, I'm happy that I chose HDHP/HSA. I max it out, because if I don't use it, it rolls over to the next year and can even be invested. The downside is the deductible, but if you rarely use insurance or if you have expensive medical costs or prescriptions it pays off. Even if not, I still think it's worth it.

Also, if it's available to you, also do the LEX HCFSA. It is an HSA account for dental and vision including for LASIK. The downside is that no more than $500 in your account rolls over every year. So, it's use or lose. But if you get LASIK you'll probably use it all. Also, your account doesn't have to be fully funded to use the amount you have designated to contribute. So if you submitted a plan to put in $1200 for the year at $100 a month, and you go to the dentist in February and pay $600 for a procedure you can use the account to pay the full $600 even though you may only have funded the account with $200 so far. Hope that makes sense.


Great suggestion. I will look into the LEX HCFSA. I'm not too keen on having one, only because it creates an additional thing to watch, but I'm not going to pass up something that I can use to save money.

Best,

Me

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cswift01
Posts: 819
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:46 am

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

dstancil wrote:I love having an HSA. I currently use GEHA HDHP with HSA Bank. I've had no issues with HSA Bank as a handler. I'm 30 and do not use the doctor often. I primarily utilize my HSA to pay for dental / vision expenses not covered under EyeMED (GEHA included eye insurance) and my additional dental insurance. GEHA does offer some limited dental benefits in their HDHP. Not familiar with anything in regards to Mail Handlers.

I would look hard again at the numbers regarding the pass through contributions, deductibles, and monthly premiums. If MH is 20$ more per month in premium that is 240 / year over GEHA. MH offers an extra 150$ in pass through contributions. Still out 90$ more per year than GEHA. Add on to that the fact that MH has a higher deductible I don't see the real benefit unless there is something very specific that MH offers over GEHA.

I don't really see any pitfall to an HSA. Not to get too political but I think the HSA model is just fantastic for people who are generally healthy and require health insurance only in an emergency situation. The cost savings over the course of 10 years as opposed to a low deductible and coinsurance plan is substantial if you run the numbers and take into consideration your real world needs.

As far as my experience with GEHA. I've had nothing bad as of yet. When I've gone to the dentist, the eye doctor, or a physician they have worked very well with GEHA and I know exactly what the cost will be. I have not had to get anything preauthorized but if you delve into the paperwork on their website and spend some time getting familiar with your policy they spell things out fairly well.

There are fees associated with the investing side of things. I've kept a full year of deductible not invested that I have access to instantly if I need it. Everything over is invested.

Love having my HSA. I tell everyone in my age group that they should have one.


Thanks for responding. So, I have a couple of follow up questions. I hope you don't mind. First, I've read that people rate GEHA customer service as "poor" (http://bit.ly/2kPvvf5) which is why I automatically thought of MH because that was rated as "outstanding." Of course, that could be subjective. Thanks for posting your experience.

I have seen that HSA Bank requires you to keep at least $5000 in your account or they charge a monthly fee. Is this your experience as well? If they do charge that fee, does GEHA pay? I'm only asking because the loss of not investing $5000 is quite large. MH's offering via HealthEquity is completely free, although they require $2000 in the account before you can invest and tax your investments quite a bit. You pay a a 0.033% monthly fee per investment (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). I'm not sure how that really works, although it would seem that you are charged quite a bit per $1000 invested per month. That adds up as well.

Thanks,

Me
Last edited by cswift01 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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cswift01
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

BabaYaga wrote:I have GEHA as well and love it. Use HSAbank to invest. If you are fairly healthy I think it is the best deal going. Think I have about 14k sitting in it atm. I did it for the tax benefits as well.


Any experience with their costs? I.e. what are you charged to invest?

Thanks,

Me

EpicWin
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by EpicWin »

cswift01 wrote:
BabaYaga wrote:I have GEHA as well and love it. Use HSAbank to invest. If you are fairly healthy I think it is the best deal going. Think I have about 14k sitting in it atm. I did it for the tax benefits as well.


Any experience with their costs? I.e. what are you charged to invest?

Thanks,

Me


I also use GEHA HDHP w/ HSA Bank. I have done so for maybe 3 or so years and really do not have any problem with it. While I don't have much need to go to the doctor, I still do at times and I have two little girls. In the years I have had the HDHP, I've probably spent at least the amount I've gotten back in premium pass through ( self+family = $1500), but not much more. The exception was last year when I got LASIK. I did not have an HCFSA, but I had enough stashed in the HSA and paid for it with that. I tend to think that after two years, the amount I receive in premium pass through will more than make up for that.

I have not noticed any fees for investing with HSA Bank. There are various fees that HSA Bank would otherwise subject you to, but being a member of GEHA HDHP avoids those fees for the most part. There is a minimum balance fee from my recollection, but I've never not maintained the required balance. Also, there are trading commissions that are attached to each trade with your TD Ameritrade investing account, which acts just like a regular brokerage account essentially, but if you only trade their commission free ETFs, that can also be avoided. Even the cheapest ETFs have expense ratios, though, so someone somewhere is always getting a cut of your wealth.

EpicWin
Posts: 45
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by EpicWin »

Also, with GEHA HDHP, just like with their non-HDHP plans, you still get access to their version of incentive wellness. After a biometric screening, you'll get a $75 prepaid mastercard sent to your home. Then you can do or spoof doing various things online to get another 175 points (the max redeemable annually) that can be spent, now, at the HSAstore or FSAstore websites at $1/pt. While still better than nothing, this benefit has been devalued since last year when the same 175 points could be used with OnLife to get stuff that wasn't simply HSA/FSA eligible purchases (i.e. last year we could get bikes, binoculars, workout equipment, food prep stuff, the gamut. Now, we can get things like hearing aid batteries and canes). I am not sure what MH offers in this arena.

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cswift01
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

EpicWin wrote:
cswift01 wrote:
BabaYaga wrote:I have GEHA as well and love it. Use HSAbank to invest. If you are fairly healthy I think it is the best deal going. Think I have about 14k sitting in it atm. I did it for the tax benefits as well.


Any experience with their costs? I.e. what are you charged to invest?

Thanks,

Me


I also use GEHA HDHP w/ HSA Bank. I have done so for maybe 3 or so years and really do not have any problem with it. While I don't have much need to go to the doctor, I still do at times and I have two little girls. In the years I have had the HDHP, I've probably spent at least the amount I've gotten back in premium pass through ( self+family = $1500), but not much more. The exception was last year when I got LASIK. I did not have an HCFSA, but I had enough stashed in the HSA and paid for it with that. I tend to think that after two years, the amount I receive in premium pass through will more than make up for that.

I have not noticed any fees for investing with HSA Bank. There are various fees that HSA Bank would otherwise subject you to, but being a member of GEHA HDHP avoids those fees for the most part. There is a minimum balance fee from my recollection, but I've never not maintained the required balance. Also, there are trading commissions that are attached to each trade with your TD Ameritrade investing account, which acts just like a regular brokerage account essentially, but if you only trade their commission free ETFs, that can also be avoided. Even the cheapest ETFs have expense ratios, though, so someone somewhere is always getting a cut of your wealth.


Thanks for responding.

I had understood that HSA Bank charged $3 per month for an investing account. Also, they require $5000 in your account before you may invest vs HealthEquity only $2000. On the other hand the deductible is almost $1000 less for GEHA even if their customer service is rated poor.

Thank you so much for your info. Its valuable in helping me decide.

Best,

Me

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cswift01
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by cswift01 »

So, I've been doing more digging, in part due to the suggestions of this group (thanks everyone again). I found that maybe I had some misleading information. I found this sheet:

http://hsabank.com/~/media/files/cdh/fe ... ndard_2_50 which led me to believe that if you decide to invest that HSA charges you a separate $3 per month charge (on top of the monthly HSA administrative charge which would be paid by GEHA). On the other hand, I found http://www.hsabank.com/~/media/files/fees_s1 which does not include that investment fee. That has led me to question if my first link was maybe a company specific fact file and the second link is the general HSA Bank cost. This in essence means that via GEHA I could decide whatever balance works for me and invest the rest without any costs (if the 2nd link is right). I am confirming this with HSA Bank, which will probably tell me that they cannot confirm GEHA's plan until I sign up, but nonetheless this might work (also given what most have mentioned here).

I have also contact HealthEquity and they have stated that the only fee that I would be charged via MH's plan would be the 0.03% on top of whatever investment I would have, which could include Vanguard's index funds (which are super cheap). I would also need to maintain a balance of $2000 before I would be allowed to invest, which would also be a "cost."

I'm still thinking about all of this, but I appreciate any past and future insight members on this board have. Thanks again.

Me

Timber82
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:39 pm

Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by Timber82 »

I have been considering this move to HSA as well. But I need to know how much some of my required prescriptions would cost as well as a typical hospital visit, would I just call up the doc office and the pharmacy and ask what my copay would be if I had XXX health plan?

Another thing when I was in the private sector and before I was married I had an HSA and my biweekly amount was something like $50 and then the company kicked in $25 of that into my HSA account and I was free to put more in. Does the price vary or how much would my expected paycheck deduction be for the HSA plan for my wife and kid and myself, and does the govt contribute any money to the HSA account or are you entirely on your own?

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mjedlin66
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Re: Health Savings Account - Suggestions for more

Post by mjedlin66 »

I have the GEHA HDHP. I do not pay a monthly fee to HSA Bank and I do not have $5000.

I believe what you are referring to is the fee for investing. My HSA is not yet invested. You do not invest wih HSA bank directly. Rather, HSA bank allows you to choose between two investment brokers. Their fees are structured differently. One of them does have a monthly fee if your balance is too low.

But you don't have to invest right away. I am not invested yet.
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