"How to" Guide to HSAs
|- How to Choose an HSA-Qualified Health Insurance Plan|
|- How to Apply for Coverage|
|- How to Establish your Health Savings Account|
|- How to Maximize Your Tax Benefits|
|- How to Keep Your Health Insurance Premiums Low|
When you are ready to choose a plan, follow the directions below. It usually takes no more than 10 minutes or so to choose the best plan for your needs.
- Get an Instant Quote. Our instant quote engine can rapidly show you the available plans in your area, so that you can get an overall feel of what premiums will be for the different HSA plans. To see just the HSA plans, change the “Plan Type” on the Customize Search tab at the top of the page to “HSA”. Note that not all insurance companies and plans are available in all areas.
- Compare premiums. We recommend initially comparing premiums on just the 100% plans. These plans pay 100% of covered expenses after your deductible, and will allow you to make the maximum HSA contribution with the minimum out-of-pocket exposure.
This will quickly give you a feel for which companies are most competitive in your area. In order to look at just 100% plans, set "Your Coinsurance" on the Customize Search tab to " 10%".
- Decide if you want a plan that pays for outpatient charges, or if you want a more catastrophic plan that only covers charges while you are hospitalized. You can lower your premium by choosing a plan that covers only inpatient doctor visits and prescription drug expenses.
You can quickly see if the quote you're looking at covers these expenses by clicking the Details link next to the instant quote result, and looking up Office Visit and Prescription Drugs.
- You may want to consider choosing a higher deductible on your HSA plan, and adding a $100 deductible accident policy. Stand-alone accident plans that cover $5,000 or $10,000 after the $100 deductible can be viewed on our Accident Plans page.
Because these accident plans are very inexpensive, you may be able to keep your premiums lower while greatly reducing your exposure for the type of claim you're most likely to need your health insurance for - an accident.
- After narrowing your choices, you will probably wish to look at the plan in more detail. If so, you can find additional coverage details on our Choose a Plan page, and you can also download a company brochure.
You may also wish to check the insurance company's PPO network to see which doctors and hospitals are considered in-network providers. Having access to a PPO network can mean substantial discounts in what you pay for your health care, even before you meet your deductible. The link to each plans PPO network can be found on that company's page on our site.
Applying for HSA health insurance and establishing an HSA is quick and easy. Most companies allow you to apply online. Or you may simply print out an application and fax it to us at 866-284-0082, or mail in your application to the address below.
The easiest and most efficient way to apply for an HSA plan is online through an insurance company's secure online application. This will enable you to avoid the hassles of filling out a paper application, and will speed up the process by instantly transmitting your information directly to the insurance company’s underwriting department. The application usually takes about 10 minutes to complete. Most, but not all insurance companies offer an online option.
You may apply online by running instant quotes, and apply online for most plans we offer right from the quoting system's results page. Or simply select the apply online link below for the plan you are interested in.
Mail or Fax an Application
You can download an application for the plan you are interested in, print it out, fill in all the required information, then fax it to us toll-free at (866) 284-0082 or mail it to us at the address below.
What Happens After You Apply
When you apply for a health insurance plan through ColoHealth, we immediately submit the information to the insurance company's underwriting department. Before your policy is issued it must be approved. This process can take anywhere from an hour, to three or four weeks, depending on the insurance company and your particular health history.
We monitor your application while it is in the underwriting process, and keep you informed every week. We use our experience and connections to make sure your policy gets issued as quickly as possible. If any additional information is needed, we'll let you know. We will inform you as soon as you've been approved, and make sure that you're happy with your coverage.
We're Here to Help
As you've probably noticed, our website is very complete and should answer most of your questions. However, if you need personal assistance, we are happy to help. You may communicate with us in the following ways.
If you have a quick question for us, the best way to get an answer is to use our contact form, or call and leave a message with the receptionist. We do return calls and emails as quickly as possible, but we are often on the phone consulting with clients and unable to take incoming calls.
If you are ready to apply, and need to talk to someone briefly before applying, please contact us with the word URGENT in the subject, or call and ask the receptionist if one of our agents is available. If you are unable to reach someone right away, tell the receptionist to mark your message as urgent, and we will get back with you as quickly as possible.
If you are serious about choosing a plan, and are looking at a premium of over $300 - $500 per month, you may want to schedule a telephone consultation before you sign up for a plan. We will help you fully analyze all your options, let you know the pros and cons of the various plans you are considering, and give you our professional opinion as to which plans will best meet your needs. We'll then help you get enrolled with the plan you choose.To schedule an appointment, just call our office and let the receptionist know that you'd like to schedule a time to speak with us. She'll gather some basic information from you, so that we can review some plan options prior to our meeting. There is no charge for this service, but we will request some basic information prior to the meeting so that we can run quotes and begin to analyze your options.
Once you have applied for a high deductible health insurance plan, you'll want to go ahead and set up your Health Savings Account. You are not required to establish an HSA, but by funding the account as soon as possible you'll be able to take advantage of the tax deductions and tax-deferred growth that HSAs offer.
To establish your HSA, follow the steps below:
- First, you will need to choose the bank or trustee that you would like to administer your HSA. While some insurance companies offer to administer your account (only if you have their insurance plan), you may also choose to work with an outside, third party administrator.
An HSA plan is really a pretty simple concept. You have a high-deductible health insurance plan, which you hope to never use. But if something big does happen, it will protect your assets and cover your medical expenses. But there are a few things that you should know that can make a big difference in how much money you spend, and how much money you accumulate in your account.
There are basically three different strategies you can take when deciding how to fund your health savings account.
- Put no money in the account, except when you incur a medical expense. This strategy allows you to legally "launder" any money used to pay medical expenses. In other words, by depositing money into your HSA, then immediately withdrawing it to reimburse yourself for medical expenses, you are making your medical expenses all tax-deductible. You may want to use this strategy if you are on a tight budget and want to keep your cash outlay as low as possible.
- Fully fund the account, or at least put in as much as possible based on your budget. Take money out of the account any time medical expenses are incurred, and let the rest grow tax-deferred. This strategy will maximize your tax deduction, while making your HSA funds available to pay any non-covered medical expenses before your deductible is met.
- Fully fund the account, but pay all medical expenses from a non-HSA account. Reimburse yourself for medical expenses at a later date. This strategy will allow you to maximize your tax deduction, and will also allow you to maximize the tax-deferred growth of your HSA. You can then reimburse yourself, tax-free, at any time in the future for medical expenses incurred over the ensuing years. .
To maximize the potential growth of your funds, you may want to make your HSA deposits as early in the year as possible. Any growth in your account is tax-deferred, like an IRA.
Raise your deductible as your HSA account grows.
When you fund your account you build up a financial "cushion" which allows you to raise your deductible as your account grows. Every time you raise your deductible, your premium should go down.
By the way, don't forget that every time you fund your account you get an instant tax deduction. When you offset the tax savings against your premiums, you'll find your net cost for an HSA plan can be very low.
The maximum allowable contribution goes up every year with the Consumer Price Index. If you are contributing to your account for 2017, the individual contribution limit is $3,400, and the family limit is $6,750. In 2019, that limit is $3,450 for individuals and $6,900 for families. Always try to raise your contributions to your HSA each year so that you continue to raise your deductible, saving you money on your premiums.
Stay healthy, so you can switch plans.
All health insurance plans have rate increases. If a rate increase happens to you, you can switch to a different insurance company. All health insurance plans have rate increases. If a rate increase happens to you, you can switch to a different insurance company.
If you pay attention to the pharmaceutical commercials, you learn lifestyle really has nothing to do with disease, and it is natural and healthy to be on many medications for the rest of your life, which will then solve your health problems.
If you pay attention to the science, you know the truth is quite different. It appears lifestyle is probably 95% of the picture, and we know the occurrence of degenerative disease can be dramatically reduced and even prevented.
We've found many HSA owners are interested in wellness, and disease prevention. After all, they're paying for their own doctor visits if they do get sick. We also believe it is because HSA owners are "forward thinking" people, and like to plan for their future - both financial and physical. You can improve your odds of excellent health with just a few key habits:
- Eat very high quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits. Shoot for 35% of your calories. This will lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and more.
- Limit your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates like bread and pasta. The majority of health problems in the U.S. are related to metabolic diseases that involve insulin resistance, a direct result of eating too many processed foods.
- Exercise and lift weights. Exercise guru Jack La Lanne recently turned 92, and he says if you have muscles you never feel old.
Compare your plan to other available plans at least once a year, or whenever you get a rate increase.
Oftentimes people keep their plan much longer than they should, and end up paying much more than they should. If your rates go up, you can compare a wide variety of plans on our Instant Quote System. If you have your coverage through ColoHealth, we automatically do this analysis of available plans for you any time we are notified of rate increases.