When you're changing jobs, don't forget about the money you have in your health savings account (HSA). Otherwise, you might be neglecting the advantages of HSAs: Even after you and your employer part ways, those funds are yours forever.
But once you leave your job, what exactly should you do with those HSA dollars? Read on to get the information you need.
What happens to your HSA when you leave a job?
Although your HSA may have been offered as part of your employer's benefits package, it remains yours, even when you leave your job. If you want to, you could leave those dollars where they are and continue to save, invest, and withdraw them tax-free for qualified medical expenses. But that's not your only option for an old HSA. Let's walk through 3 potential choices:
1. Leave your HSA where it is.
This option might even allow you to continue contributing to your HSA, provided you remain in an HSA-eligible health plan—even if you're at a new employer. Be aware that instead of contributing pre-tax dollars directly from your paycheck, you may now have to make contributions with post-tax dollars instead because you no longer work at the employer that sponsors your HSA plan. You'll still be able to deduct your contributions from your tax bill, but you'll have to report the contributions on your tax return yourself.
Avoid letting inertia make the decision about where to keep your HSA. Some employers pass on account fees to nonemployees. Before you left, your employer might have been covering those, but now that you're a free agent, you may be on the hook, which can prove costly over time. And be careful about letting your old HSA sit and collect dust. If there's a period of inactivity in the account, some institutions may send HSA funds to the state unclaimed property division as abandoned property.
When changing jobs, it may also be a good time to review the investment options available at your old HSA provider. With HSAs you can make a choice about which investments are right for you, and if your current options aren't a perfect match. If they aren't a perfect match for what you're looking for, consider scoping out what else is out there.
2. Roll over into a new HSA
Another option is to transfer your HSA funds to a new HSA at a different provider. This could help consolidate your health savings accounts, especially if you already have HSA funds elsewhere. If you're shopping for a new HSA provider, research options without any, or with only minimal, administrative fees and the investment options you prefer.
3. Roll over into a new employer-provided HSA
If your new gig also offers an HSA, you may choose to transfer the money from your past employer's offering to your new employer-sponsored account. This move can help you centralize the account and may help you save on fees.
Tips to get the most out of your HSA after you leave your job
Here are 2 things to consider when you're transitioning employers.
1. Find out whether you're still eligible to contribute to an HSA.
While the money already in your HSA is yours, you may or may not be able to keep contributing to the account once you leave your job. Refresher: HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts only available to those who are currently enrolled in a specific HSA-eligible, high-deductible health plan (HDHP). For 2023, this means the health plan carries a minimum deductible of $1,500 for self-only coverage and $3,000 for family coverage. An HDHP also requires maximum annual deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses be no more than $7,500 for self only and $15,000 for family.
It's important to keep this in mind because if you are changing jobs, you're likely also changing health plans. If you choose to maintain your current HSA-eligible health care plan under what's called COBRA, you can continue making contributions to an HSA, as long as that plan is HSA-eligible. If you don't, you'll want to check whether your next plan is also HSA-eligible. If not, you'll be able to maintain but not add any more money until you are once again covered by an eligible plan.
2. If you roll over your HSA, be mindful of your timeline.
If you roll over your HSA, your old HSA provider may give you the option of doing so by receiving a check or by doing what's called a trustee-to-trustee transfer. If you receive a check, your old HSA provider will sell your current investments and then provide you with a check that you must deposit into another HSA.
There are a couple of things to be mindful of with this option, though: You can only do this kind of check-based transfer 1 time within a 12-month period. In addition, you must deposit the check you get into another HSA within 60 days or risk incurring taxes and a 20% withdrawal penalty if you're under age 65. If you're 65 or older, you are only subject to ordinary income tax.
If you do a trustee-to-trustee transfer, your old HSA provider simply transfers your existing assets to your new provider—you may be able to keep your investments. There are no limits on the number of these types of transfers that you can perform every 12 months, and you also remove the risk of incurring taxes or penalties. This can make the HSA rollover process easier and less stressful, but not all HSA providers offer it.