This was a reader question submitted by HSA Edge reader Alice. If you have a question get in touch and we’ll try to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our health insurance is through my husband’s work. We have a HDHP and an HSA account. Our oldest child is now 22 and out of college, employed full time, and we will not be declaring him a dependent on 2016 taxes. He is still on our health insurance plan, as it was the same cost to us.
My understanding is we cannot pay for his medical expenses with our HSA account, since he is not our dependent. I believe he is allowed to open his own HSA account. However, his work says he cannot open it through them, since he’s not on their health plan. My husband’s employer has told us he can open his own HSA but he can only contribute post-tax dollars, completely negating the purpose of the HSA account. What is the law and where/how does he open his own HSA account and contribute pre-tax earnings?
Thanks for your email. I only recently learned about the adult child HSA and it is a great benefit. Everything you say is true: your son has HSA eligible insurance, he can have his own HSA, his employer does not offer an HSA, and you cannot pay for his medical expenses using your HSA. There is just one key part missing that provides the tax benefit.
Your son does not need to have an employer open a Health Savings Account for him, he can do this on his own at whatever banking institution he likes. The only requirement is that you have HDHP eligible health insurance, which he does. All he has to do is some research on banks that offer HSA’s and go online and click “Open HSA Account” and fill out the forms. When selecting a provider, I would look at the fee structure because that can vary; I have had success with HSAbank.com.
In fact, many people establish HSA’s without their employer’s help. Employer’s that offer actual Health Savings Accounts (via a 3rd party banking institution) are likely also making contributions to the employee’s HSA. So in that regard it makes sense that they help you open the account as they will be directing their (and possibly your) contributions there. However, this is not at all required. There are many people (for example, the self employed) who have HSA eligible insurance and open up their own HSA account. Totally legit and acceptable, all the law states that you need is HSA eligible insurance.
As for tax benefits, it is true that your son will contribute post tax dollars to the HSA. However, this amount will be deducted from his income when he files his yearly taxes (see: Automatic vs. Manual Contributions), reducing the amount of tax he owes then. Specifically, when he completes HSA Form 8889, the amount he contributes to the HSA will flow down to Line 13, which will make its way onto Form 1040 and reduce his taxes.
So in summary, he does not need to contribute pre-tax earnings. Instead, his post-tax contributions will be converted into pre-tax contributions once he files his taxes, so he can enjoy all of the benefits of the HSA.
Note: if you have an HSA, please consider using my service EasyForm8889.com to complete Form 8889. It is fast and painless, no matter how complicated your HSA situation.