How to spend a small amount of health savings acocunt money.
March 20, 2011 7:50 PM   Subscribe

What is the most effective way to use ~$250 of HSA money while it's available?

The last company I worked for contributed to an individual HSA (Health Savings Account).

I have about $250 in the account and I'm looking for the best way to spend the money soon, as there are small fees assessed on the account every month.

Although probably don't have any food allergies, I was thinking about using the money to have a general test done by a licensed allergist.

I'm in my early 20's and male [to help with suggestions]. Also, I don't have health insurance now because I'm finished with college, so whatever tests/appointments/etc., would need to be very close in cost to the $250.

What would be other good ways to spend the money?
posted by mtphoto to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: When was the last time you had a physical and blood work? Early 20's is a good time to get a feel for your cholesterol, blood pressure, et cetera.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2011

Condoms? I don't know if they count as health maintenance or anything, but when I moved from college to the real world, I was flabbergasted at how much condoms cost when not being subsidized by my school's health services dept.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2011

The traditional way we use up the dregs of our HSA is to buy a spare set of glasses (or prescription sunglasses).
posted by jamaro at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2011

Glasses or dental cleanings?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2011

I wouldn't go for a food allergy test just for the hell of it. What makes you think that you might have food allergies?

You don't mention whether you wear glasses, but that was always what I spent the bulk of my HSA spendings on. One year when I had some extra, I ended up getting a pair of prescription sunglasses, in addition to my regular glasses.

Other ideas:

A physical by a primary care physician

A full dental exam and cleaning

Search for HSA approved OTC meds and stock up your medicine cabinet with basics (that wouldn't be a useful thing to do with the whole $250.00 but if you have any odd bits left over after you use the bulk on the major medical expense of your choice).
posted by kaybdc at 8:01 PM on March 20, 2011

I'd get a basic physical, then spend the rest on buying a first aid kit, and stocking your medicine cabinet, plus if applicable a spare set of contacts and contact solution.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:02 PM on March 20, 2011

Response by poster: I actually used my last employer's vision benefits to get a pair of glasses before I left. I didn't realize at the time that I could have used the HSA funds to pay for the out of pocket cost of the glasses! That would have saved me over $100.

About how much will a standard blood work test cost?

The last time I had a physical was in high school, most likely. I'm pretty skinny, but a physical still sounds good.
posted by mtphoto at 8:05 PM on March 20, 2011

Response by poster: @kaybdc

When I eat certain foods together I'll have gas for a while or my stomach will feel funny. I also get dry, chapped, sometimes bleeding hands the in winter, but I've heard that hand rashes can point to food allergies.
posted by mtphoto at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2011

Best answer: Keep in mind that as of Jan 1, you can no longer use HSA funds on OTC drugs (without a doctor's prescription). Here is the IRS FAQ on this.
posted by notme at 8:20 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of things that can be covered by your HSA if you get a note from your doctor saying that you need the thing. For instance: one of my co-workers got her doctor to write her a note saying that she needed to go to the gym. Now, she can use her HSA to pay for her gym membership. Another got a note saying she needed to do yoga, so her yoga classes are covered by her HSA. A third got a note for massages, and I'm pretty sure she also gets her lotion for dry skin covered. Some doctors are more willing to write these notes than others, but it can't hurt to ask. So I'd use one month's money to get a physical, and then make a list of things you'd like and ask your doctor if he or she will write you the note.
posted by craichead at 8:26 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

given the additional info, I'd go for a physical with a few caveats:

Do you have still have primary care physician? Depending upon where you live, they can be thin on the ground and some aren't taking new patients. Even if you're an established patient, as physicals require longer appointment times, it can take a 2-3 months or more to get an appointment as they only slot a few each day (at least this is the case at the practice where I've been a patient for 6 years). This is something to consider if you have to use the money up soon. Also I would not be shy about asking how much the appointment and recommended labs/tests will cost. I have no idea, but again, depending upon where you live, it might be over $250.
posted by kaybdc at 8:28 PM on March 20, 2011

Prescription sunglasses.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:48 PM on March 20, 2011

Sorry, mtphoto, I don't really know. Sounds like craichead has the right idea about using the funds to see a primary care physician for a physical and then going from there.

Preliminary Googling pegs it as little as $200 to as much as $450 for blood work, but perhaps you can talk to your doctor at the physical about your options. Always ask questions, there's no reason you should be unclear about what something will cost you. Best of luck!
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:51 PM on March 20, 2011

I actually used my last employer's vision benefits to get a pair of glasses before I left. I didn't realize at the time that I could have used the HSA funds to pay for the out of pocket cost of the glasses! That would have saved me over $100.

Contact your HSA administrator and ask what the eligibility dates are. Your out of pocket cost on the glasses might still be reimbursable if the purchase date fell within those dates, you'd just need to send them a copy of the receipt.
posted by jamaro at 10:21 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few months ago, I took a giant lump-sum distribution from my former employer's HSA when I realized that I was being charged account maintenance fees. I did not need to claim specific expenses to take the distribution.

FWIW, the way my previous employer's HSA worked was that I could request reimbursement for expenses without submitting a specific itemized list of expenses. Unlike the flex plan, submission of receipts was not necessary for the HSA reimbursement requests to go through. I believe the HSA reported money coming in and out of the account to the government, and, like any tax situation, if you are audited you may have to "prove up" your expenses.

I would have no problem proving up valid expenses because during the past few months I have been paying COBRA premiums, which are qualifying medical expenses for the HSA funds. OP, YMMV may vary if you have zero ongoing health insurance expenses, but it may be possible to take a distribution now and retroactively apply the funds for accounting purposes (to "prove up" expenses in the event of an audit) for qualifying medical expenses already incurred/paid.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 5:29 AM on March 21, 2011

« Older How to get a PC to output surround sound to a...   |   (Not so) Slight of Hand Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.