Do you have a health savings account (HSA)? If so, you probably got it through your employer and have it at an administrator chosen by them. What you may not realize is that you can choose to transfer your account to a different provider.
This recently came to my attention when Financial Finesse changed HSA providers. Rather than transfer my account into the new administrator, I decided to consider my other options. If you’re shopping around for a new home for your HSA, here are some things to consider:
What do you want to invest the account in? If you’re looking to use it to cover immediate expenses, you’ll want to keep your HSA someplace safe like a savings account. In that case, you can just compare the interest rates they’re paying.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to invest the account to grow for the future as I am, you’ll want to see what the investment options are. Many providers don’t even let you invest outside of a cash account at all. Others give you a limited number of choices (including sometimes funds that may be difficult to access otherwise). Some allow you to invest in thousands of mutual funds and even individual stocks through a brokerage account. To maximize my investment options, I focused my search on the latter.
Do you need to keep a certain amount in a cash account? For someone planning to invest most or all of their account, having to keep money in cash can be a drag on returns. In fact, my main motivation for switching providers was that my current HSA administrator requires me to keep $5k in the cash account or be charged a $3 monthly fee that can’t be deducted from the brokerage account, forcing me to leave money in the cash account to cover the fees. It may not sound like much, but if that extra $5k was invested and earned a 10% average annualized return (I invest my HSA pretty aggressively) over the next 30 years, it would end up becoming an additional $82k that I could use tax-free for future medical expenses. That’s not a bad payoff for a few minutes of paperwork.
What are the fees? Fees are another thing that can eat into your returns, especially if you have a small balance. Make sure to include any additional costs that you may be charged for using the investment option, including both administrative and transaction fees. However, keep in mind that extra investment earnings can more than compensate for an additional fee. For example, it’s worth me investing that $5k in my current HSA because the investments would have to earn just .72% more than the cash account to make up for the $36 in additional fees each year.
You don’t hear much about HSA transfers, probably because HSAs are still relatively new and haven’t acquired enough assets to make providers aggressively compete for them yet. But as these accounts continue to become more common, I expect this will be a growing area of interest. For now, at least be aware that you have a choice and depending on how you plan to use your HSA, it could be a consequential one.