Full disclosure. You are not a financial planner. However, as a physician, you often tangle with health insurance coverage issues and work with your staff to communicate resolution strategies to your patients. You instruct and guide them as you both try to navigate the challenges of managed care.

One healthcare financing tool that many of your patients have little to no knowledge of is a health savings account (HSA). According to Healthcare.gov, an HSA is a savings account that allows an individual to put away money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By utilizing these untaxed funds to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, prescriptions, and other approved costs, a person can potentially lower their overall healthcare expenses.

For example, if you offer your patient a test that may be beneficial to them, but it is not covered by their insurance, you can ask them if they have an HSA to help cover the costs. Since so many people are unfamiliar with this option, they may really appreciate your insight.

An important point to remember about HSAs is that they are only available to those who have a high deductible health plan (HDHP). As explained by Healthcare.gov, these are health plans that only cover the cost of preventative services before the deductible.

One of the great benefits of an HSA account is that if you don’t use the funds within a year, you still keep the money accrued. You just need to use the money for a qualified expense sometime in the future.  In 2021 you can contribute up to $3,600 for an individual HSA account or up to $7,200 for a family. These rates are scheduled to increase in 2022.

Opening an HSA is simple. Many employers offer enrollment alongside the HDHP plans that they offer. If someone is self-employed or is not offered an HSA through work, they can visit their local bank and open an account—just like opening any other bank account. Not every bank offers HSAs, so a little research may be needed.

If you want to help out your patients, you can always identify HSA-providing banks in the area and ask them for a flier that you can hand out to patients explaining how the accounts work. It’s a great way to network and a nice way to help your patients.