You’ve been researching options for straightening your smile and have one big concern — making the cost work with your budget. Luckily, you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) on your side. Your pre-tax funds are waiting for you to use them for medical, dental, and orthodontic treatment, reducing the stress of high price tags.
AlignerCo is already the most affordable home aligner option, but if you have an HSA, paying for it can be even easier. Every HSA is different but many will allow you to use your funds to pay for at-home aligners and other orthodontic treatments. Maybe you’ve never used your HSA before or maybe you’re an expert HSA spender. Either way, this guide will walk you through the process of using one to pay for AlignerCo.
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What Is a Health Savings Account?
An HSA is a type of savings account designed to hold pre-tax income to be spent on qualifying medical and dental expenses. You can choose to deposit nothing, make irregular contributions, or have money go in as an established payroll deduction. Sometimes, employers will also add money to the account.
HSAs aren’t an option for everyone. To qualify, you need to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. What is a high deductible is set by the IRS and subject to change each year. As of January 1st, 2023, a high deductible is at least $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 for a family.
The IRS also sets the parameters for what is and is not a qualifying health product or treatment. They don’t perfectly outline these, so there is room for HSA administrators to interpret the guidelines. In any case, a wide scope of treatments should be covered. Still, verify with your administrator before making a purchase to avoid fees.
You do have the option to use your money for non-qualifying expenses by withdrawing the money. Just remember that you’ll be charged a 20% fee plus taxes, so it might not be the best decision.
You can only contribute so much to your HSA account each year. For 2023, the IRS has limited this to $3,850 for an individual and $7,750 for a family. For many, that’s more than they expect to spend on healthcare in a given year, but HSA funds don’t expire, letting you build up your savings to prepare for the unexpected. And once your account reaches a certain amount, you can choose to invest the money in mutual funds and other options.
How to Get an HSA
Most people who have an HSA get it through their employer. Companies that offer employees high-deductible health plans typically also include an HSA in their benefits package to make it easier for their team to manage their out-of-pocket expenses. You can also open one during your open enrollment period if you weren’t given one when you signed.
If your health plan is independent of your job or you are self-employed or unemployed, you can also open an HSA on your own. Just verify that your current health plan meets the IRS threshold for having a high deductible. Banks, credit unions, brokers, and insurance companies can all offer HSAs.
Do HSA Funds Cover Dental/Orthodontics?
In general, HSA funds can be used to pay for products and treatments that positively impact health — with some notable exceptions. Preventative, basic, and major dental and orthodontic care will almost always be a qualifying medical expense. This means your HSA funds can pay for your six-month cleanings, tooth fillings, and root canals.
So, what are the exceptions? First, general health products. This includes items like floss, toothbrushes, and non-prescription toothpaste. Yes, these are essential and improve your oral and general health, but they still aren’t qualifying expenses. Also excluded are cosmetic treatments, like teeth whitening.
What Types of Orthodontic Treatment Can an HSA Cover?
In most cases, orthodontics is considered major treatment. This means you can likely use your funds to pay for braces, Invisalign, 3M Clarity, and even at-home treatments without penalty — but there is a little nuance here.
In most cases, orthodontic treatment makes meaningful changes to tooth alignment, improving everything from wear on the teeth to the quality of chewing — even if the improvement is small. But there are cases where braces and aligners only make cosmetic changes, closing gaps and straightening teeth that weren’t causing harm. Since cosmetic treatments aren’t qualifying expenses, your administrator might charge a fee for using funds to pay for orthodontics. You need to ask them for clarification.
Can I Use My HSA for AlignerCo Clear Aligners?
Most HSAs will let you use your funds for at-home aligner treatment, including AlignerCo. But before using your account to pay, you should check to see how it classifies online aligner services. Certain HSAs consider home aligners an elective cosmetic treatment, which are usually non-qualified expenses. Most accounts, however, classify at-home aligners as orthodontic treatments, which are almost always covered.
On their website, AlignerCo is fairly confident that you can use your HSA (or FSA) account to pay for treatment. They say “Invisible Aligners for teeth straightening do fall under orthodontic service which is covered by most HSA & FSA accounts.” Even so, you should look over a list of your account’s qualifying expenses instead of assuming AlignerCo is included.
Will AlignerCo Help Me Use My HSA?
Not entirely. They’ll provide itemized receipts if you need them to confirm your purchase with your HSA. Their customer support team may be able to answer questions as well. But if there’s any paperwork or direct communication with an administrator involved, AlignerCo leaves that up to you. Fortunately, HSA reimbursements are pretty easy (see below), but it’s still nice to have a company that will walk with you every step of the way.
If you’re looking for a home aligner company that will take care of all your insurance and HSA procedures for you, check out Byte. Their insurance team knows the process inside and out and will handle any necessary paperwork and communication.
How To Use HSA Funds for AlignerCo Treatment
Like we mentioned, paying for home aligners with your HSA is a fairly simple process, and there are a few different ways to go about it. The easiest way to do it is by linking your account to a card. When paying for your AlignerCo treatment, just enter your card’s information on the checkout page like you would any other debit or credit card. Just make sure that online aligner service is a qualifying expense for your HSA first. If you use an HSA card for an unqualified expense, you will incur a 20% penalty and you’ll need to pay income taxes on that amount.
Your HSA might also allow you to make payments on your treatment directly from your online account. Or, you can get checks linked to your account, which work just like an HSA card.
Or, go ahead and pay for your treatment on your own, then get a reimbursement from your HSA. You can either write an HSA-linked check to yourself or transfer money from your HSA to a personal account. However, this only works if you purchased your AlignerCo treatment after establishing your HSA.
What If I Have Dental Insurance, Too?
If you have an HSA and a dental insurance plan that covers AlignerCo treatment, you might be able to pay for your clear aligners without spending a dime from your non-HSA funds. Not every dental insurance provider includes AlignerCo and other online aligner services in their orthodontic benefits, but some do. Even plans that cover home aligners, however, often come with age limits, lifetime spending limits, or other coverage limits.
This means that insurance plans will typically only cover part of your aligner costs, so you’ll still have some out-of-pocket expenses. No worries, because you can cover these remaining costs with your HSA if you’d like. If you have both, use both! Unless, that is, you’re planning on using your HSA funds for future medical or dental expenses.
Health Savings Accounts vs. Flexible Spending Accounts
Curious about how HSAs and FSAs are different? It’s easy to confuse these two account types but there are quite a few features that separate them. Below are the differences to know.
|Who qualifies||Only people with a qualifying high deductible health plan (HDHP)||Anyone whose employer offers them as a benefit|
|2023 contribution limit||$3,850 for an individual, $7,750 for a family||$3,050 for an individual|
|Contribution adjustments||Anytime||Only during open or special enrollment periods|
|Expiration||None, unused funds will roll over||Dec. 31 every year|
|Account ownership||Owned by the individual and follows you during employment changes.||Owned by the employer. You lose it if you change jobs.|
|Using funds||Can withdraw funds for non-medical expenses, but must pay a 20% penalty||Might not have access to funds for non-medical expenses|
Just like HSA funds, your FSA account can be used to pay for AlignerCo treatment in most cases, but it is ultimately up to your account administrator. Ask them about their policies before paying for AlignerCo.
AlignerCo is the most affordable at-home aligner company out there. Their prices are already extremely manageable, but an HSA can make their treatment even more accessible. If you’re considering AlignerCo, talk to your employer or HSA administrator about how to use your savings. Soon, you’ll be on your way to a brand new smile without breaking the bank.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are HSAs voluntary?
It’s voluntary to use one, and it can be voluntary to have one at all. However, some employers automatically include them as part of their benefits package, meaning you might end up with one in your name even if you aren’t looking to have one.
Do employers contribute money to HSAs?
Some do, and some don’t. If yours does, you can grow your savings without needing to contribute your own money. If you are interested in adding funds, make sure that the contributions between you and your employer don’t exceed the yearly limit.
What are the biggest differences between HSAs and FSAs?
The two main differences are how you qualify and what happens to the money at the end of each year. FSAs are through your employer; to qualify, you just need a job offering it. Keep in mind you lose access if you switch employers. HSAs only require you to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. As for the funds, FSA money disappears at the end of the year if not used while HSA money rolls over.
If I have both an FSA and an HSA, which should I use?
Start with your insurance benefits, assuming you have orthodontic coverage. Then use your FSA funds before they expire. If you still have remaining expenses, switch to using your HSA funds to pay. Just be sure you aren’t double-billing between options.
If I change jobs, do I lose my HSA funds?
No! Unlike FSAs, you keep your HSA as long as you have a high-deductible health plan. The only way to lose it is to switch to a plan with a deductible lower than the IRS threshold.
How do HSA administrators determine if something is cosmetic or not?
The IRS guidelines are their starting point, but they get to interpret these as they see fit. Since there isn’t a comprehensive list of qualifying expenses, you need to ask before you pay.
Why are in-office treatments more likely to be considered qualifying medical expenses?
They are more likely to be definitively medical in nature. However, even when they fall into a gray area, your provider can give you paperwork stating treatment is not cosmetic. At-home treatments don’t come with these benefits but can still be eligible expenses.
Are HSA funds easy to use?
Yes! They’re easiest to use when you have a debit card for the account, but online bill pay, checks, and reimbursement are also pretty simple to use.
What happens if I use my funds for a non-qualifying expense?
First, you have to pay taxes on the amount spent. Then, you will pay a 20% fee on top of that.
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