For many people, health savings accounts (HSAs) offer a tax-friendly way to pay medical bills. You can deduct your contributions to an HSA (even if you don't itemize), contributions made by your employer are excluded from gross income, earnings are tax free, and distributions aren't taxed if you use them to pay qualified medical expenses. Plus, you can hold on to the account past your working years and use it tax-free for medical expenses in retirement. All-in-all, HSAs can be a great tool for covering your health care costs.
There are, however, a few HSA limitations and requirements that are adjusted for inflation each year. They apply to the amount you can contribute to an HSA for the year, the minimum deductible for your health insurance plan, and your annual out-of-pocket expenses. If you or your health plan are not in compliance with the restrictions in place for any particular year, then you can say goodbye to the HSA tax savings for that year.
HSA contribution limits
Your contributions to an HSA are limited each year. You can contribute up to $3,600 in 2021 if you have self-only coverage or up to $7,200 for family coverage. If you're 55 or older at the end of the year, you can put in an extra $1,000 in "catch up" contributions. However, your contribution limit is reduced by the amount of any contributions made by your employer that are excludable from your income, including amounts contributed to your HSA account through a cafeteria plan.
The 2021 HSA contribution limits are higher than the 2020 amounts. For self-only coverage, you can contribute $50 more in 2021 than you could in 2020. For family coverage, the 2021 limit is $100 higher than the 2020 cap. The table below shows how the contribution limits have increased over the past five years.
Health plan minimum deductibles
To contribute to an HSA, you must be covered under a high deductible health plan. For 2021, the health plan must have a deductible of at least $1,400 for self-only coverage or $2,800 for family coverage.
The 2021 minimum deductible amounts are the same as the 2020 figures. The following table shows the minimum deductible amounts for the five most recent years.
Limits on out-of-pocket expenses
The health plan must also have a limit on out-of-pocket medical expenses that you are required to pay. Out-of-pocket expenses include deductibles, copayments and other amounts, but don't include premiums. For 2021, the out-of-pocket limit for self-only coverage is $7,000 or $14,000 for family coverage. According to the IRS, only deductibles and expenses for services within the health plan's network should be used to determine if the limit applies.
As the table below indicates, the health plan out-of-pocket expense limits for HSAs have increased each year from 2017 to 2021 to account for inflation. That includes a $100 jump for self-only coverage and a $200 increase for family coverage from 2020 to 2021.
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