Bill to “Improve” Health Savings Accounts for Medicare Users Comes with a Big Downside
A new bill in Congress aims to give older Americans a tax break for setting aside money for medical expenses, a strategy many give up when they reach age 65. There would be a trade-off, however. Called the Health Savings for Seniors Act and introduced by Reps. Ami Bera, D-Calif., and Jason Smith, R-Mo., the bill would allow Medicare beneficiaries to contribute money to health savings accounts, or HSAs. Under current law, once a person signs up for Medicare — eligibility is at age 65 — they must stop putting money in those tax-advantaged accounts. At the same time, though, the bill explicitly removes the ability to use HSA withdrawals to pay for Medicare premiums — something that’s currently allowed. It also would eliminate penalty-free withdrawals for non-medical expenses in the 65-and-older crowd as now permitted, according to people familiar with the bill. With a growing number of workers using HSAs, more people are likely to reach age 65 — the point at which you become eligible for Medicare — with an HSA in tow.