Knowing how much you can contribute to your HSA can be a bit confusing when it comes to family health insurance plans. The insurance covers everyone on the plan, but Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are individually owned. All the individuals on one tax return are allowed to spend out of the primary tax payer’s Health Savings Accounts, but independents, such as adult children, are not. Effectively, each tax return represented in the group plan can fund an individually owned Health Savings Accounts up to their plan type’s maximum. This means that adult children on their parent’s plan can fund their own HSA up to the family contribution limit.
When it comes to spousal HSA contribution limits, they are limited to their plan type’s maximum. Because the individual limit is precisely half the family one, it doesn’t matter if spouses are on separate individual plans or one family plan, their effective joint contribution limit is the same.
Most married couples have a family plan and then one spouse owns an HSA. They contribute the family maximum to that one HSA and then spend their joint medical expenses out of it. However, there may be benefit to opening HSAs for both spouses if one or both of you are over age 55.
If both spouses are 55 or older and not enrolled in Medicare, each spouse’s contribution limit is increased by the additional contribution. If both spouses meet the age requirement, the total contributions under family coverage can’t be more than $8,900. Each spouse must make the additional contribution to his or her own HSA.
There is an age 55 catch-up provision for HSA contribution limits. For tax year 2019, the catch-up is $1,000 per person and the family limit is $7,000. In this way, if both spouses contribute to their own HSAs for 2019, they can achieve a joint contribution of $9,000. However, they are only able to do this if each spouse contributes the $1,000 catch-up to their own individually owned HSA.
It is important to remind us that when you enroll in Medicare you can no longer fund your HSA. As the IRS reports in Publication 969:
Beginning with the first month you are enrolled in Medicare, your contribution limit is zero. This rule applies to periods of retroactive Medicare coverage. So, if you delayed applying for Medicare and later your enrollment is back dated, any contributions to your HSA made during the period of retroactive coverage are considered excess.
Most people benefit from enrolling in Medicare when they turn age 65. This means that you can likely only take advantage of this catch-up contribution for the 10 years between age 55 and age 65. Enjoy it!