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Don't take away my HSA

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After moaning and groaning about the trouble it took to get reimbursed for my health expenses through my Health Savings Account, my company sent out a notice this week that our annual insurance renewal is fast approaching. They're hosting meetings to help us decide whether the traditional PPO (or preferred provider organization) or HSA (health savings account) is best for us.

You'd think after all the complaining, I'd jump at the thought of switching back to the PPO. I'll attend the meeting, but actually, I'm thinking I'll stick with what I've got.

Assuming it's about the same difference in cost, here's why:

First, yes, my family started off this year with an unusually large number of doctor visits that were no longer covered through the HSA. So instead of paying a $30 copay, I paid a $95 office visit charge. Several times. Then there were visits to specialists, and those added on a few more chunks of money. In all, the added costs did add up to more than the $1,000 my company put in my health savings account — I assume as an incentive to go with the less expensive plan. But I also have to take into consideration the difference in my premiums under the HSA, compared with the PPO.For a full family, with a PPO, I would have been paying $427 per month out of my paycheck every other week for a family plan. With the HSA I'm paying $354 bi-weekly. That means I've saved $73 every two weeks by signing up for the HSA. I should have been putting that additional money directly into my health savings account, so when medical expenses arose, it would be there. At the time, I didn't think I could afford it. But I'm somehow paying it anyway. Back to the accounting — I would have to spend nearly $2,900 out of pocket before I can even start to think it's more expensive than the PPO I was offered. And that's not including the copays and whatever wouldn't have been covered under the PPO.

But the other reason I like the Health Savings Account, I'm discovering, is that it can be used for things that the traditional health insurance doesn't cover. I'm not sure that this is one of them, but my son has to have his wisdom teeth taken out next month. I have been carefully taking out a few extra hundred dollars of my pay so I can cover that with my health savings account funds when the time comes. That means when I go to do taxes next year, the $1,000 it costs to remove wisdom teeth will not show up as taxable income. That could also save me a little money.

So, now that I've figured out how to successfully reimburse myself, I discovered it's not all that much trouble. I just hate websites that don't make it obvious. But my company may take care of that problem, too. Thanks to a couple of alert readers, our human resource manager said she'd be looking into local options for setting up health savings accounts.

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