How COVID-19 Has Changed Health Savings Accounts
- Posted on: May 1 2020
As you may have heard, the U.S. federal government recently passed the CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Stabilization Act) which gave people some additional flexibility in how they can use health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs) for medical expenses.
Why does this matter to us? Well, we commonly see patients use their HSA funds towards LASIK.
There are several benefits to these tax-exempt savings accounts, but basically HSAs and FSAs let you save money in these accounts tax-free, which reduces your overall taxable income and gives you access to funds for some specific, qualified, medical costs.
Health savings accounts are used in conjunction with a high-deductible health-care plan (minimum deductible of $1,400 for an individual, $2,800 for a family). It is estimated that 20 percent of workers have a high deductible health plan through their employer.
The CARES Act qualifies over-the-counter health product expenses, in addition to prescription medical expenses, for HSA funds.
The list of qualified benefits allows people to use their tax-free HSA funds to pay for first aid supplies they may need to care for themselves or family members should they contract coronavirus or any other illness. These include:
- Cleansing wipes
- Over-the-counter cold medicines
- Over-the-counter allergy medicines.
The cost of these basic care necessities can add up, so being able to pay for them with tax-free money that reduces the overall tax burden for a person or family can be a great way to save!
Interestingly, many of these basic care necessities above are standard for emergency preparedness kits, so being able to pay for stocking up with HSA funds is a real benefit.
For the tax year 2020, individuals can contribute up to $3,550 a year in an HSA and up to $7,100 a year for family coverage and the deadline to contribute to HSAs for 2019 has been extended to July 15, 2020. With regard to what we do, HSA funds can be used for many eye care and vision correction products including:
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Contact lenses
- Contact lens solutions
- Vision exams
- Laser vision correction procedures
During the coronavirus health crisis, public health officials have strongly urged people to avoid touching their face as it is a likely mode of transmission of the virus. This is hard to follow for people who rely on glasses and contact lenses to see well – both of which require frequent and invasive face touching. We have received our fair share of questions at the office about this. The safest option is to freshly-wash your hands whenever you change your contact lenses or when you need to adjust them (rub your eyes) or move your glasses on your face!
Consequently, we know that the coronavirus scare has caused people with vision issues to consider their options, including LASIK. If you have any questions, now is a great time to research the treatments available to you, including LASIK and SMILE.
If you’re interested in talking through the risks and benefits of these procedures as well as your candidacy or using your HSA funds, please feel free to give us a call anytime at 713-626-5544.
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