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Health Savings Account (HSA): What Happens to it When I Retire?

The Health Savings Account (HSA) is a great tool that is going to help us all reduce our health insurance costs and avert the current healthcare crisis in America. But what happens when a person retires? What use is an HSA then?

Your HSA transforms itself at that moment you turn 65, when you officially become eligible for Medicare. Your Health Savings Account, which will have served you all those years as a nice financial cushion before you begin using your insurance policy, flips into something very similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

That's right. An HSA essentially becomes an IRA when you turn 65. The reason for that is that when you turn 65, you are eligible for Medicare, and HSAs are not meant to help you with Medicare, that is its own system.

So what happens to that money left over in your HSA? If you haven't been sick much, there could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in there!

Don't worry, it's safe. There is no "use it or lose it" policy with HSAs. That is one of the great things about the HSA.

No, your dutiful HSA has now become a retirement account. Now that you're 65, you can begin to pull money out of your HSA without penalty and use it for anything. Use the money for roller blades, dinner, a new computer, a car, or give it to your kids. It's yours to do with what you want. No penalties for withdrawing money.

However, remember, when you take money out of any IRA, that money is taxed by the IRS. You got a tax-deferral when you put the money in, and now you pay taxes to take the money out. Fair, isn't it?

If you want to avoid paying taxes on that money, no problem. Just stick to using the money for healthcare expenses (as approved in IRS Publication 502) and you won't pay taxes on the withdrawals, even after you're 65.

This is just one of the many ways HSAs are so useful and helpful for Americans savings for their own healthcare. The HSA is available today from many insurance agents and financial planners.

Daryl Kulak is the author of the book Health Insurance Off the Grid. This easy-to-read book provides a simple, detailed plan to reduce health insurance expenses by thousands of dollars for people who are self-employed, unemployed or underinsured. The book is available at the Website:

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