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What does an HSA cover?

Jan 21, 2021
Empower Insights

A quick guide to the out-of-pocket expenses your health savings account can cover

If you have a high-deductible health plan, you can use a health savings account (HSA) to set aside money to pay for some medical expenses tax-free.1 But not every kind of medical expense is reimbursable. In 2021, research from Empower Retirement and Personal Capital found that 83% of respondents want to worry less about money in 2021. Knowing how you can spend your HSA funds may help.2

Here are some examples of what’s covered:

Medical treatments

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Fertility treatments
  • In-home nursing services
  • Necessary surgery (including necessary reconstructive surgery)
  • Osteopathic care
  • Qualified long-term care services

Medical imaging and tests

  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • X-ray
  • Lab tests

Prescribed medicines

  • Prescription drugs
  • Prescribed over-the-counter drugs
  • Insulin

Medical supplies

  • Bandages
  • Permanent modifications to your home
  • Special equipment installed in your car
  • Crutches
  • Wheelchair
  • Lactation supplies
  • Hearing aids
  • Oxygen
  • Pregnancy test kit
  • Artificial limbs
  • Service animal

Vision care

  • Eye exams
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens solution
  • Eye surgery

Dental care

  • Dental exams
  • Fillings
  • Braces
  • Dentures

Mental health care

  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychologist fees

Special education expenses

Tutoring and schooling in:

  • Overcoming learning disabilities
  • Learning Braille
  • Learning lip reading
  • Remedial language training

Addiction treatment

  • Doctor-recommended inpatient treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Programs to quit smoking

Certain health insurance premiums

  • Long-term care insurance
  • Healthcare continuation coverage
  • Health coverage while on unemployment
  • Medicare A and B if you are age 65 or older



What an HSA doesn’t cover

And here are some common expenses that an HSA specifically does not cover:

  • Controlled substances, even if legalized in your state
  • Funeral expenses
  • General household help
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Teeth whitening
  • Unnecessary cosmetic surgery

HSA dollars can also be saved year over year for retirement, and these savings can really add up.

Learn how one recent grad uses his HSA to save

1 Contributions, any earnings and withdrawals are federal income tax-free if used to pay for qualified medical expenses. State income taxes may still apply. HSA funds used for nonqualified medical expenses may be subject to applicable federal and state income taxes and/or penalties. 

2 Empower Retirement and Personal Capital, “Post-2020 Financial Mindsets” research in conjunction with Harris Poll, November 25, 2020, to December 11, 2020, among 2,008 respondents.

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If you’re considering seeking out financial advice to get things back on track, here are a few places to start looking.

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