Saturday, December 9, 2006

Health Savings Account

Last week, allergies kicked in for me. Snarf. You may have noticed there were no posts for a couple of days . . . or since I'm only aware of 3 people that read this blog, maybe not. Anyway, I had to go to the doctor and update my allergy-prevention strategy, so I'm mussing about medical expenses.

I don't have much to complain about, I'm a pretty healthy individual. I do take some maintenance medications that I buy in bulk via mail order. I also take advantage of my Health Savings Account. My company offers one to all the employees. During the enrollment period, I decide what my contributions will be for the next year. This year, I decided on $2,400. Every month $200 is deducted from my check for this purpose. However, I have the $2,400 there to spend the first day enrollment choices kick in. (I could theoretically spend all $2,400 the day I get it.) I get a debit card for a small fee of $4 that I can use anywhere you can use a credit card. And . . . drumroll . . . all my contributions are pre-tax!!

On the day of my doctor's visit, I used it to pay the co-pay at the doctor's office, and again to fill the prescriptions she wrote for me & to get some over-the-counter allergy medicine.

According my HSA website, I've saved $400 in taxes this year by putting money I would have used for health purposes anyway into this account. It's really easy to use - about the only thing I have to do is sometimes send in a receipt for health purchases I make at grocery stores. They send me a letter asking for verification of the charge, and I tape the receipt to a piece of paper and fax it to them. They update my online account, usually that day.

Besides doing this, I always ask the pharmacist for the generic version of a drug, or an over-the-counter equivalent. Last year, when my eyes swelled up and refused to open when exposed to some new plant that blew into town, I was prescribed a $200 eye drop. The pharmacist pointed out that they were selling almost the exact same thing over-the-counter for $10.99. (It pays to drop by the independent pharmacy that's been in your town forever and ask their opinion on your prescription.) You can sometimes bypass the doctor completely by going to your pharmacist.

1 comment:

Frugal Babe said...

I'm a health insurance agent, and while I think that the whole health care system needs a serious overhaul, for now HSAs are the best thing available for relatively healthy people. Good work funding yours - a lot of people get HSA qualified insurance and never get around to funding the account.