Real Life

How I Spend & Save on Medical Needs with My HSA

Not only does having an HSA mean paying for health-related needs is more convenient… it also helps you get more out of your earnings.
by Tess Taylor July 7, 2020

What if I told you that you can use an HSA to negotiate for the lowest rates on eligible medical devices? Well, if you’re currently (or might soon be) facing the purchase of medical equipment and supplies like I was a few years back… here’s what you need to know.

‘What’s a CPAP machine?!’

In 2018, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed the nightly use of CPAP machine. A few things caught me off guard about this. First, I had sleep apnea?! And second, what the heck was a CPAP machine? 

At the time, I was receiving insurance through an employer, but when the terms of leasing said machine through their program and the ultimate costs were explained, I was none too happy.

My insurance company said they’d pay their share for the lease, but only if I successfully used the machine for a certain number of hours per night. The whole thing felt a little too “Big Brother” to me. So after talking with the medical equipment technician, it dawned on me: my HSA! I had quite a bit of purchasing power in my pocket. I wouldn’t even have to use my insurance if I didn’t want to.

I asked the tech that if I paid outright for the CPAP machine and supplies, what would it run me? She looked up a cash price and announced it would be half the cost that the insurance company would be charged for the lease. Half! Ring me up.

From Serious Savings…

Who knew my HSA could work such magic?! Not me, that’s for sure. Another really cool thing is that anyone with an HSA can use this method to purchase medical equipment and services at reduced prices. It just takes a little work… in my case, calling around to find the best deals.

Imagine you have a chronic medical condition that requires you to take a special blood test every week or a biopsy every few months. Those kinds of costs could become astronomical. 

Instead of paying whatever your local hospital charges, consider negotiating a bit. Think cash price or a reduction for paying upfront. You can use your HSA to accomplish this. Plus, remember that you also have a choice in which lab processes your diagnostics, so be sure to call around and get the best rates.

Many individuals face the need for durable medical equipment in order to lead productive lives. In some cases, like heart surgery and other life-saving procedures, stents, artificial valves, and other medical devices keep people going. The problem is that this equipment can cost more than the actual surgery or hospital stay.

It’s always a good idea to discuss what the best options are for your health, and talk with your doctor about ways to reduce costs. Often, paying for these items in advance or using in-network providers combined with your health insurance is a great first step. 

… To Big Time Purchasing Power

As was true of my experience obtaining a CPAP, there’s quite the market of medical supplies out there… and a lot of it is overpriced and therefore over-paid for. You can save, it just requires more effort.

Big chains often sell medical supplies and health products at a premium, but there are ways to shop around and buy in bulk. Use customer loyalty cards for discounts and don’t forget to check your smartphone apps to reveal sales on items you need for your health. Then just present your HSA debitStarship card at checkout for tax savings. 

Check online for deals on medical supplies like dietary products, syringes, and other lifestyle products. With an HSA, you may even want to consider buying refurbished items like wheelchairs and walkers, negotiating down to a cash price you feel comfortable with. 

And Don’t Forget About Your Classic Eligible Expenses

The list of HSA-eligible medical and health supplies also just keeps getting longer. You can now use your HSA to purchase OTC medications and even feminine care products. Speaking of which, even the uber-popular “period panty” line Thinx just became HSA-eligible! As are their leak-proof underwear, Speax. Ladies, we’re movin’ on up.

Other expenses like visual, dental, and orthodontic care can also be paid for with your HSA. Lots of product and service purveyors will offer interest-free payment plans when paired with a health savings account… so it’s win-win all around.

Good luck, and happy spending (and saving)!

Take the first step
in taking care of you.