Enroll in this. Sign up for that.
Every day, we're flooded with "urgent" reminders to take part in programs that are supposed to be good for our health, our wallets or both. Often, those kinds of emails end up in our spam or trash folders. Really, who has the time?
But here's one reminder absolutely no one should ignore: Enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and save money—money you could be investing or using toward other household
These accounts are designed to ease your wallet when your healthcare plan doesn't cover certain expenses. Those can include everything from occasional medical expenses like laboratory fees and x-rays to everyday items like bandages and contact lenses. They can even include expenses you might have never expected, like visits to your chiropractor or acupuncturist and some home improvement costs intended to accommodate a disability. (Visit
this IRS website to learn more about what expenses qualify.)
One of the key differences between the accounts is that only people with qualified high-deductible healthcare plans are eligible for HSAs. But no matter which account you have, both are convenient and come with great benefits. Here's what you should know:
1. You can enroll in an account at the same time you enroll in health insurance.
While you're clicking away to select your healthcare plan for the next year via your employer, you can enroll in an HSA or FSA along the way. Although you can enroll in an HSA independently of your employer at any time through a bank, 69% of people with HSAs that Visa surveyed in a recent study enrolled through their employers.1
2. You can set money aside automatically. Bonus: your employer might chip in, too!
With all FSAs and employer-linked HSAs, a portion of your paycheck can be deposited in your account automatically pre-tax. Your employer may also contribute funds to your HSA. In 2017, Visa's FSA and HSA consumer research study found that U.S. companies contributed an average of $832 per employee HSA.1
3. It's not always "use it or lose it."
FSAs came on the scene before HSAs, and the knock on FSAs was that if you didn't spend all your FSA funds by the end of the year, you would lose that money. For a lot of folks, the deadline to spend money was enough to turn them off to FSAs entirely. But these days, a bit of the pressure is off. Some companies offer employees a short "carry over" period after the year's end to spend the remaining funds. That carry over option is enough to convince more than 50 percent of FSA users surveyed to open or contribute more to their accounts. 1 With HSAs, in the meantime, any leftover money is always rolled over into the following year and can continue to be rolled over indefinitely.
4. Tax benefits make it worth it.
Both FSAs and HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts. Here's how they work: When you contribute to an FSA or employer-linked HSA, you can contribute pre-tax cash from your paycheck. That means the money you're putting into those accounts isn't taxed. If you contribute to an HSA outside of your employer, you can deduct those contributions from taxes at the end of the year. And when you withdraw money for eligible healthcare expenses, those withdrawals aren't taxed either.
5. Go cashless for convenience.
Don't want to pay with cash and deal with the reimbursement paperwork later? Then you'll feel right at home with an FSA or HSA card, like a Visa Healthcare card. Just like a traditional debit card, you can swipe your FSA or HSA card to spend the funds from your healthcare account on healthcare expenses. Last year, 78 percent of FSA users and 84 percent of HSA users surveyed chose this convenient route.1
The bottom line: The money you save and the convenience you get with an FSA or HSA will more than make up for the time you spend setting up and managing an account.
As you figure out your options this open enrollment season, ask your employer if they offer an HSA or FSA plan with a Visa Healthcare card. To learn more, visit www.visahealthcare.com and check out our easy-to-follow videos on FSAs and HSAs.