Health savings accounts are becoming common at the workplace, but few people are allowing their funds to grow, which many advisors say is the smarter move.
Rising health-care costs have pushed employers to use or at least consider high-deductible health plans at the workplace. Employees in these plans have access to tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for qualified medical expenses.
To qualify for an HSA, your health plan has to be what's considered "high-deductible," meaning $1,300 out-of pocket for individual coverage and $2,600 for families. The maximum amounts for these plans are $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families in 2016.
There were 18.2 million HSAs as of June 30, up 25 percent from a year earlier, according to HSA consultancy Devenir.
HSA assets are growing as well. They hit $34.7 billion at the end of June, 22 percent higher than the previous year, Devenir found.
Despite the popularity, many holders are spending the money instead of allowing it to accumulate. In the first six months of 2016, $16.7 billion went into HSAs, and holders withdrew $11.8 billion, according to Devenir.
"People think, 'I put the money in there for health expenses. I have a health issue, so I'll use the money now,'" said Jeffrey Levine, chief retirement strategist at Ed Slott & Co. "That isn't the most tax-efficient use."