Health Savings Accounts

Question: I'm in the market for an HSA. Any suggestions on how to shop around and find the best provider? There are so many, it gets confusing. Jeremy, Santa Cruz, CA

Answer: Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are confusing. The insurance component is actually a high deductible catastrophic policy with an attached tax-sheltered account. The HSA contributions are made with pretax dollars. Withdrawals are tax-free so long as the money goes toward qualified medical expenses, which include everything from acupuncture to organ transplants to quit-smoking programs. The money is usually parked in a banklike account and beneficiaries of the plan receive a checkbook or debit card for paying bills. It's like a Flexible Spending Account--except that with an FSA, you forfeit what's not spent in a calendar year while unused HSA money rolls over.

As you can imagine the terms of the policy can vary a lot. Two places I know for comparison shopping are eHealthInsurance.com and HSA Insider.

Any other suggestions?

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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