What Happens to My HSA When I Leave My Job?

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Unlike a Flexible Spending Account, you can keep your Health Savings Account when you leave your job. Even if you opened your HSA in association with a High Deductible Health Plan you got from your job, the HSA itself is yours to keep. All of the money in it, including contributions your employer made, contributions you made, and interest, belong to you.

Pay COBRA Premiums Using Your Health Savings Account.

If you’re losing your health insurance as a result of leaving your job, you can use the money in your HSA to pay the monthly premiums for COBRA continuation of your health insurance.

This is considered a qualified medical expense; you won’t have to pay income taxes or the 20% penalty on HSA withdrawals for COBRA premiums.

What if you can’t afford COBRA, don’t want to continue your current health plan, or aren’t eligible for COBRA? As long as you’re receiving federal or state unemployment benefits, you may withdraw the money in your HSA to pay health insurance premiums. For example, you could purchase a health plan from your state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange and use your HSA to pay the premiums. Depending on your income, you may even be eligible for a government subsidy to help you pay the monthly premiums so your HSA funds stretch further. However, as soon as you stop receiving unemployment benefits, don't forget to stop using your HSA funds to pay those health insurance premiums.

Losing Your High Deductible Health Plan? Stop Your HSA Contributions.

If you lose your HDHP health insurance coverage, you won’t be able to contribute to your HSA until you regain HDHP coverage.

This is true even if you get health insurance coverage from a different type of health plan. Not having an HDHP means you’re not allowed to contribute to your HSA.

However, you may withdraw tax-free, penalty-free funds from your HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses whether you have an HDHP, have a different type of health insurance, or are uninsured.

Retiring? Special Rules Apply to Your Health Savings Account.

Once you turn 65, you may withdraw money from your HSA for any reason without facing the 20% penalty for non-medical withdrawals. However, only the money you withdraw for qualified medical expenses will be tax free. You’ll pay regular income taxes on money you withdraw for non-medical purposes.

Medicare premiums are considered a qualified medical expense, but Medicare supplemental policies like Medigap aren’t. You’ll pay income taxes on HSA withdrawals used for Medigap premiums, but the HSA withdrawals you use for Medicare premiums will be tax free.

You may no longer make contributions to your HSA once you’ve enrolled in Medicare.

Want to Change HSA Custodians?

You don’t have to keep your HSA with the same custodian; you may move your HSA from one custodian to another. You might consider doing this if

  • You’re unhappy with the fees your current HSA custodian charges.
  • You’re not satisfied with the investment options your current HSA custodian allows.
  • Your current custodian offers online-only HSA management and you’d prefer getting face-to-face customer service by walking into your local bank branch.

Changing from one HSA custodian to another can be done by a direct transfer of assets between custodians.

In other words, your old HSA custodian transfers the money directly to your new HSA custodian. Following the rules in IRS Publication 969, “Do not include the amount transferred as income, deduct it as a contribution, or include it as a distribution on Form 8889.”

Some custodians charge a fee for transferring assets or closing an account, so make sure you ask.