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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Effective January 1, 2021, and in partnership with Benefit Strategies, Baltimore County is excited to announce that employees and non-Medicare retirees can now enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA) that can be paired with the Cigna High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Tax-free payroll contributions for active employees can only be made to an HSA if you are enrolled in the Cigna HDHP. Non-Medicare retirees under age 65 may contribute to an HSA to help pay for eligible medical expenses and potentially take advantage of catch-up contributions based on age.  To learn more, contact Benefit Strategies at 888-401-3539.

An HSA is an individual financial account, fully owned by you (much like a personal bank account). The funds are yours and will remain in your account until you spend them, even if you change employers or retire. There is no deadline to spend HSA funds. An HSA allows you to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses with pretax dollars, provides a triple-tax advantage—meaning contributions, earnings and qualified distributions are tax free—and is a way to save for future healthcare expenses.

Eligibility 

To be eligible for an HSA, you must meet the following requirements

  • You must be a United States resident and work and pay taxes in the U.S.
  • You cannot be enrolled in a non-HSA qualified medical plan, including a Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA), although you can be enrolled in a Limited Purpose FSA for dental and vision expenses only.
  • If you are married, your spouse cannot be enrolled in a Health FSA, but their enrollment in a Limited Purpose FSA is permitted.
  • You cannot qualify as someone else’s tax dependent.
  • You cannot be enrolled in Medicare—There are typically triggers that result in automatic enrollment in Medicare Part A (such as collecting Social Security benefits at age 65 or older). Prior to one of these triggers, you should consult with the Social Security Administration on your Medicare Part A enrollment and effective date, as it will impact your eligibility to make contributions to an HSA.

Account Management

Once your HSA enrollment is processed by Benefit Strategies, your enrollment information will be forwarded to our banking partner, Healthcare Bank—member FDIC, a division of Bell Bank, one of the Midwest’s largest banks—to establish your account. Benefit Strategies HSA administration is fully integrated with your account at Healthcare Bank.

HSA funds are held in an interest-bearing cash account. You can set your account so that funds automatically move to investments once your cash account balance has reached a certain threshold. Your investment earnings, like interest earned in your cash account, grows tax-free. Find information on current investment options.

You will have convenient and secure account access through your personal login through the Benefit Strategies website or mobile application where you can view your account balance and transaction history, make post-tax contributions, request distributions and manage investment options. 

Making Contributions

Active employee contributions will be made through a payroll deduction on a pretax basis (Federal, FICA and state taxes). Active employees and non-Medicare retiree can also make direct contributions to your HSA on a post-tax basis and take the tax break when you file your taxes (although you will not have the FICA tax savings as you do with payroll contributions).

You need to stay within the annual contribution maximums established by the IRS. For 2021, the maximum contribution limits for HSA are:

  • Single: $3,600
  • Family: $7,200
  • Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 per year

Using Your Funds

Although there are regulations governing when contributions can be made to your HSA, there are no regulations on when you can spend your HSA funds. Because the funds in your HSA are owned by you, they can be used at anytime, even after you are no longer enrolled in a HSA-qualified HDHP.  Be sure to keep all receipts for HSA transactions with your other important tax documents.

Funds held in the cash account are available immediately when you swipe your card or request a distribution. For invested funds, you will need to request a distribution through your secure online account, the mobile app or complete and submit a distribution form. Typical turnaround time for disbursements from invested funds is five to seven business days.

Qualified Expenses

HSA funds can be used to pay for qualified expenses for yourself, your legally married spouse and your tax dependents (definition of HSA-eligible dependents may be different than the definition of eligible dependents on your medical plan.)

Qualified expenses include not only the out-of- pocket expenses you incur under your HSA-qualified HDHP, such as copays, deductible and prescription drugs, but many other medical, dental and vision expenses. You can even use HSA funds to pay for certain medical plan premiums in retirement. View a list of HSA-eligible expenses or view IRS Publication 502, published annually.

Questions

For questions, call 888-401-3539, email info@benstrat.com or visit the Benefit Strategies website to chat with a representative.

 
Revised October 26, 2020         

 

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