Letter Re: Health Saving Accounts in the US–Buying Retreat Medical Supplies with Pre-Tax Dollars

Hi Jim –
Thanks for your blog. It is well worth the [voluntary] 10 cents a day.

Just a quick tip on saving money. Many employers offer flexible spending [“Health Savings”] accounts [(HSAs)] that are funded with pre-tax money. These accounts are usually billed as letting the employee pay for office co-pays, prescription co-pays, etc. tax free. But depending on the program, many other things qualify for purchases through the account. For example, my employer’s program allows most over-the-counter [medical] products. Things like bandages, creams, contact lens solution, foot care products and more are all valid purchases. I’ve been able to build solid health care/first-aid kits for my 72-hour bag, truck, and home using my account. My employer’s program offers a card that is used like a debit card, good any place that takes Master Card or VISA. This makes it even better because I can make qualified purchases wherever I find the best deal without worrying about claims forms, receipts, etc. If any of your readers work for an employer that offers such an account, it is worth researching to see what is allowed and what isn’t. They might be surprised, I know I was! – John in Michigan

JWR Adds: It is also noteworthy that with most HSA plans, any portion that is not expended can accrue and be designated for a retirement fund. I consider HSAs a “win-win” for preparedness-minded families. The only significant drawback would be if our nation enters a period of mass inflation.