Tag Archives: Medicare

HSA Family Contribution Limit with Spouse on Medicare

This question was sent in by HSA Edge reader Tim. Feel free to email your question to evan@HSAedge.com

I have client whose wife is on Medicare. Client has parent child coverage in effect. Can client contribute full family amount of $7,000 plus $1,000 for being over 55?

Contribution Limit determined by HSA eligibility

It sounds like you are trying to determine the contribution limit for a family where the wife is not HSA eligible due to Medicare. The contribution limit depends on who is actually covered by the policy, and for what amount of time. Note that Medicare can retroactively affect your HSA coverage. Either way, the IRS test for contribution is called HSA eligibility. It contains 4 rules which are:


If any of the above are violated, the individual is not HSA eligible and they cannot open or contribute to an HSA. It isn’t entirely clear from your email who is covered under the HSA eligible plan and who is not.

Family coverage includes the eligible individual and at least one other individual – whether they are an eligible individual or not.

Here are the valid scenarios I can think up:

1) Parent and child covered

If your client and the child are covered by the HSA insurance, you are correct in your assertion: family coverage of $7,000 + $1,000 catch up if client is 55+. This assumes the parent is HSA eligible. For example, the wife’s Medicare doesn’t cover the client, which would disqualify based on rule #1 above.

2) Parent, wife and child covered

Same as the above. This would mean your wife is covered by both Medicare and the HSA plan. She is not an eligible individual, and can’t have an HSA, but assuming the client is eligible, he plus the child count as two members which allows the family contribution limit (plus any 55+ catch up contribution).

3) Wife and child covered

If only the wife and child are covered by the HSA insurance, a strange situation develops since the wife is not HSA eligible. Based on the IRS rules in Form 969, at least one eligible individual is required to contribute to the HSA:

This is supported by Form 969, which defines self-only and family coverage. Note the specific language for family coverage and the “Other” individual who is covered:


This leaves the determination based on the covered child, since the wife is not eligible due to Medicare:

  1. If child is an eligible individual, family contribution applies (no 55+) but must go into eligible individual’s (child’s) HSA.
  2. If child is not an eligible individual, no contribution limit seems to apply.

Likely, the above test of the child will boil down to point 4 in the eligible individual calculation: is the child is a dependent or not? Basically, “are they old enough to pay taxes?”. The result is odd, in that only the child could open the HSA and contribute the full family contribution limit (no 55+ likely applies). Of course, they would need those funds, or you would need to contribute it for them. Note that this is the scenario discussed in Your Adult Children can Fund their HSA. However, note that the parent’s could not fund the HSA in this scenario.

Covered by HSA, but no contribution limit

The above discussion displays the possible scenario where one’s family can be covered by an eligible HSA plan but they are not allowed a contribution limit. This is generally due to violating the eligible individual definition, but could take the following forms:

  1. Husband, wife and child are covered. Wife on Medicare, and the Medicare applies to Husband. Child is a dependent.
  2. Husband and wife have HSA eligible insurance. Wife has an FSA at work, which also covers the spouse, violating the “Other coverage” clause. (Note – in 2018 there was legislative discussion of changing this FSA rule.)
  3. Family coverage begins on the 2nd of the month. Not eligible to contribute for that month, but can contribute going forward. Note that they have the option to make this up this missed month using the Last Month Rule.

In all of the above examples, HSA coverage exists but due to other factors, the individual has a $0 contribution limit and cannot contribute to the HSA at this time.

Note: If you want help calculating your HSA contribution and filing your taxes, please consider my service EasyForm8889.com. It asks you simple questions and fills out Form 8889 correctly for you in about 10 minutes.

EasyForm8889.com - complete HSA Form 8889 in 10 minutes!

Can I Use My HSA to Pay for Spouse’s COBRA Premiums?

This question was submitted by an HSA Edge reader. Feel free to send in your question today to evan@hsaedge.com.

I will be going on Medicare soon however my spouse will not be eligible until 7 months later. She will continue on COBRA coverage on my old plan. Can I use my HSA account to pay premiums entirely for her COBRA plan? Several sites I have searched on state only the amount over 10% of income like a medical deduction.

Being on Medicare does not affect how money in your HSA can be spent. One of the great things about HSA’s is that your contributions remain yours forever, so you can keep them and spend them how you like. This is true whether you change insurance, employers, or even retire and go on Medicare. The real question here is whether you can treat your spouse’s COBRA continuation coverage as a qualified expense and pay it from your HSA.

We know that HSA contributions can be a great safety net, as they can be used to pay for insurance premiums when you are receiving unemployment benefits or are on COBRA coverage. We also know that all of the benefits of your HSA extend to your spouse and dependent’s qualified medical expenses. Luckily, these two uses combine such that you are allowed to pay for COBRA coverage for your wife or dependents.

More explicitly, IRS Form 969 calls out the COBRA coverage for spouses in the “Insurance Premiums” section:


Thus, I see no problem with using HSA funds to pay for your spouse’s or dependent’s COBRA continuation coverage. This is another great benefit of HSA’s in that they can be used to provide for your family when they are in need or need care. As an aside, that 10% rule you mention generally applies to deducting large scale medical expenses compared to your income, which is separate (and not as useful) as an HSA.

Note: to help track your spending on eligible COBRA insurance premiums, please consider my service TrackHSA.com for your Health Savings Account record keeping. You can store purchases, upload receipts, and record reimbursements securely online.

TrackHSA logo

Paying for Health Insurance Premiums with HSA Funds

This question was submitted by HSA Edge reader Laura. Feel free to send in your question today to evan@hsaedge.com.

I was forced into early retirement and the company COBRA was outrageously expensive. I went to the marketplace and found a plan with Anthem. I have been paying for the coverage with HSA funds. Is this an eligible (covered) expense? I am not receiving unemployment benefits.

How to Pay for Premiums with HSA

It is unfortunate that HSA funds cannot be used for insurance premiums except in extenuating circumstances involving job loss. While it is possible this law will change in the future, currently it is not the case. Even so, the rules for paying insurance premiums while unemployed are strict. Long term care and Medicare are included, as is continuing health coverage such as COBRA. If those don’t apply, you can pay for health insurance while on unemployment benefits from the state/federal government. This clause explicitly requires being on state/federal unemployment compensation. Unfortunately this is usually the only real option as continuing coverage via employer sponsored COBRA insurance is excessively expensive.

The IRS spells this out when insurance premiums are considered qualified medical expenses in IRS Publication 969:

Insurance premiums. You can’t treat insurance premiums as qualified medical expenses unless the premiums are for:

  • Long-term care insurance
  • Health care continuation coverage (such as coverage under COBRA)
  • Health care coverage while receiving unemployment compensation under federal or state law
  • Medicare and other health care coverage if you were 65 or older (other than premiums for a Medicare supplemental policy, such as Medigap)

That leaves most people going back to the market place for coverage. In theory, you can pay for any health insurance premium using HSA funds, but you must be unemployed. Specifically these premiums are a qualified medical expense if you are receiving federal or state unemployment compensation. I believe they do this as their filter for who is truly unemployed seeking assistance. So if you lose your job, you can sign up for any health insurance you want, and if you are receiving unemployment benefits, you can pay for the expenses with your HSA. This is part the strategy of building up your HSA to use as an unemployment safety net, as it does provide some flexibility for your funds if you lose your job.


Note: if you need help with your HSA tax forms, please consider using my service EasyForm8889.com to complete Form 8889. It is fast and painless, no matter how complicated your HSA situation.

EasyForm8889.com - complete HSA Form 8889 in 10 minutes!