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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Here at American Health Value we have built a reputation as national experts on HSAs.  We were pleased when Health eDeals reached out to our CEO, Michael Berry, recently to talk about HSAs and tap into our knowledge base.  They knew with our 20+ years of MSA/HSA expertise that we would be able to provide answers for all the health savings account questions coming in from their reader base.

Here’s the Q and A Michael recently had with IHC Health eDeals.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

http://www.healthedeals.com/articles/frequently-asked-questions-about-health-savings-accounts


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Posted by HSA Admin at 9/16/2015 10:26:00 PM
Monday, August 24, 2015

Mid year is a great time to look at the differences between a medical FSA and a health savings account.

An FSA Perspective:

Medical FSA funding is limited to $2,550 in 2015.  You decide how much, up to that limit, you want to fund at the beginning of the FSA plan year.  This is based on expenses you think you may have during the year.  The funds are pulled from your payroll by your employer and put into the FSA. 

It works great if you have routine expenses.  For example, you could set aside money for your son’s orthodontist bill, chiropractic visits to unkink your back, and those yearly visits to the dermatologist for a skin scan.

By mid year, your expenses should be matching your FSA payroll funding.  If they don’t and you end up with too much money in your account, you could lose those funds.  It happens more than you would think, excess money in your FSA.  Extra money is usually not a problem for most people, unless it has a chance of “disappearing” into thin air.  If you do not use the funds in your FSA by year end, you could lose it unless your employer allows for a grace period to use up the funds or they allow a $500 carryover into the next plan year.  If not, the money goes back to the employer!

An HSA Perspective:

With the HSA, you can fund the account and spend it the way you need to.  What ever is left in your account on December 31st, simply rolls over to the next year on January 1, building a balance for the future.  There are no restrictions on when it has to be used and no limit on how much can be left in the account.  How much can you contribute to your HSA in 2015?

  • Single Contribution Amount $3350 (+$1000 catch up for those 55 and older)
  • Family Contribution Amount $6650 (+$1000 catch up for those 55 and older)

So relax, enjoy the rest of your summer.  Your HSA will be there when you need it.  No worries that you will be losing valuable healthcare dollars.  You and your HSA can roll on together for years.


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Posted by HSA Admin at 8/24/2015 4:13:00 PM
Thursday, June 20, 2013
HSA Massage Rules
Image courtesy of Marcus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When looking at HSA dollars and how to spend them, it’s important to consider how one expense can be qualified and another similar expense is not.  A good example of the grey area in the otherwise "black vs. white", "yes vs. no", "qualified vs. non-qualified expense" HSA world we live in, would be “massage”.

Massage therapy appears nowhere in the long list of eligible HSA expenses that the IRS provides.  But in certain, clearly defined circumstances it can become an eligible expense from your health savings account.  Consider the following scenario:

Sally was involved in a fender bender.  After the accident she went to her chiropractor, got an adjustment and got back to daily life.  She worked through the first few days after the wreck just fine, but after 4 days the real pain set in.  She went to her general practitioner to be examined. 

He could see that nothing was broken, but the impact of the accident had left her with a twisted muscle in her lower back.  The pain was exacerbated by Sally’s desk job.  Dr. Smith wrote Sally a prescription for two therapeutic massages, knowing they would aid her recovery. 

HSA Prescription Requirements
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Therapeutic massage/body work is similar to relaxation massage, but it is more concentrated on correcting things like strained muscles and repetitive use injuries.  Dr. Smith saw massage as a viable option for Sally, to both ease her pain and speed healing.  He knew that two visits would help get the back muscle to relax and get her back into the swing of things.  With the doctor’s prescription, Sally was able to use her HSA dollars.  She also made sure that she had a very good paper trail in the case of an audit by the IRS. 

If Sally had not gone to see Dr. Smith and instead went to a spa/massage center in her neighborhood, she could not use her HSA funds to pay for her treatment.  The doctor’s prescription is the key.  Unless a procedure is deemed medically necessary, you cannot use your HSA funds to pay for it. 

Dr. Smith made the call.  His prescription made Sally’s massage treatment a qualified HSA expense.  Sally put her prescription for two therapeutic massages into her HSA folder and matched the receipts.  She was careful not to misuse funds.  Perfect!

Navigating HSA Rules
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Massage is a great example of one of those vague and tricky areas that may or may not be an eligible HSA expense, based on a few very important factors.  The golden rule if you’re ever in doubt, is to get a prescription from your doctor for whatever medicine or procedure you’re questioning.

The moral of the story is that when you’re navigating the grey area of qualified HSA expenses, it’s always in your best interest to make sure you use your HSA funds correctly.  This isn’t always easy, so please keep in mind there are several resources to help you determine whether or not a certain expense will be deemed eligible for funds from your health savings account. 

First, you can check the official IRS position on the issue by consulting IRS Publication 502.  We know that’s a little tedious to read through, so you can easily visit our webpage on Eligible HSA Expenses and use our convenient dropdown features to help you quickly find what you’re looking for.  But if you want a quick and easy answer, you can always contact our office and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have on the matter. 

Let us know what you think in the comments below, and share this post with others who have health savings accounts to help them out!

Be smart and safe with your HSA and as always, we look forward to hearing from you!


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Posted by HSA Admin at 6/20/2013 7:06:00 PM
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You have decided to jump on the consumer-driven healthcare bandwagon.  The choice was quite clear for you as you see the fantastic value in using tax-free dollars to pay for medical expenses for both yourself and your family.  It’s kind of a no-brainer.

What may not be so clear, is who to use as your HSA administrator.

You know you need to open an account, start making deposits and getting the maximum benefits out of your HSA .  You want to be able to trust that your account is being handled properly.  We can help make the choice crystal clear.

Consider the following:

How long has the company, bank, or credit union been handling HSAs? 

American Health Value has been taking care of health savings accounts and their owners since 1996.  We treat our members with respect and call many of them our friends.  Our custodian bank has assets in excess of $3 billion.  This means your money is safe.

How do I access my money?
 
If you are a member with us, your account is opened in your name and you can use a debit card or checks to make purchases.  Your funds are not mingled with other account holders and you have 100% percent control of your money at all times.  If you are looking at an administrator that also does FSAs and/or HRAs, your money may be pooled with other accounts.  Find out what provisions are made to ensure your money is available to you whenever you need it. 
 
With our online banking platform, you have 24/7 access that is simple and secure.  You can also make quick online transfers and deposits, and can take advantage of our free bill pay features!
 
Are my funds insured for my protection?
 
AHV members have the security of FDIC insurance up to the legal maximum.  Accounts are also covered by SIPC insurance.  As an added safety measure, American Health Value carries a separate professional liability policy.
 
What are others saying about the company and service?
 
Personal experience from others is the best indicator of what you can expect when dealing with an HSA Administrator.  Be sure to ask for testimonials!  We are endorsed by carriers, insurance agents, and account holders across the country, and prominently feature these testimonials on our website.
 
Can you talk with someone whenever you want?
 
Call the company you are considering and see if you can actually speak with a real person.  Is there an automated system or phone tree?  How many buttons do you have to push before you speak with someone?  Can they answer all your questions to your satisfaction?  Courteous, knowledgeable and friendly specialists are what you get when you call American Health Value.  Give us a call at 800-914-3248 and see what we mean!
American Health Value
You are someone who looks for value in everything you do, so don’t drop the ball now.  Get the best HSA Administrator out there, and give us a call at American Health Value.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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Posted by HSA Admin at 5/30/2013 11:28:00 PM
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

American Health Value Staff Spotlight SeriesStaff Spotlight Series: Every now and then we thought we’d spice up our typical posts on HSAs, health insurance & wellness to offer up a better opportunity for all of you out there to get to know all of us here at American Health Value on a more personal level. To that end, we’re creating a series of blog posts called our “Staff Spotlight Series”.

In this first installment, our Customer Service Manager Robin wanted to write a piece about how eating healthy food every once in a while isn’t only good for you, it can be both practical and economical as well. Check it out below!



 Save the Meat

During World War I, the US Food Administration (USFA) urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to help the war effort. Conserving food would support U.S. troops as well as feed populations in Europe where food production and distribution had been disrupted by war.  This time around, Meatless Mondays is brought back as a reminder that meat production can be expensive and sometimes hard on the environment, and unfortunately not always the healthiest choice.   Replace one meal a week with a vegetarian meal.  Save money and reduce your cholesterol!

This week my Vegetarian Times Magazine came in the mail.  It had an article about a week's worth of meals that you can put together, refrigerate or freeze, and be ready for dinner each night without a hassle.  I cook a lot, so I don’t find dinner to be a chore.  I was intrigued however, by the beautiful recipes I saw.   It motivated me to try my meatless week of dinners.

Zucchini Corn Cannelloni
Monday night I made Zucchini Corn Cannelloni.  It was hearty, gooey, and yummy.  No one in my house complained that it was missing meat!  Paired with a spinach salad, it did the job of filling empty bellies.

 

Broiled French Onion Soup
Tuesday night I made Broiled French Onion Soup with homemade whole wheat garlic scallion bread.  I worried that soup would not make a meal, so I added a side of kale salad with mandarins, pepitos (roasted pumpkin seeds) with a chili lime vinaigrette.
 

Veggie Burger

Wednesday we ate pinto bean, mushroom, walnut veggie burgers.  This recipe is a hybrid of many veggie burgers that I have been trying.  I love pinto beans, so they became the basis of the burger.  It is so easy to change up the ingredients in a Veggie Burger, that you can add most anything you want.   I used bread crumbs and a little grape seed oil to bind it together.  I figure, as long as it doesn’t fall apart when you are pan frying it, it’s all good!   I added an Israeli couscous salad on the side.  To the couscous, I added raisins, grape tomatoes, sugar peas, pepitos, and onion.  I finished with an apple cider/grape seed oil/ brown sugar vinaigrette.  Once again, no one complained because there was no meat!

Tofu NoodlesThursday night, I admit I was starting to feel a little bit daunted by the fact that I needed to come up with another vegetarian dish.  As I peered into the refrigerator, checking out my options, I saw that I had bought smoked tofu.   I took the tofu, (my first time trying it, I will definitely use it again!) and cut it into small cubes.  I had some rice noodles in my pantry.  I added sautéed veggies that were in the fridge, with the tofu and topped it all with a lime, brown sugar, ponzu (citrus soy sauce) dressing.
 

Veggie Chili
I rounded off the week on Friday by making
Veggie Chili.  How hard is it?  Just make chili and don’t add the hamburger or chicken.  Make sure you make some corn bread to keep everyone happy!

 

My week of meatless meals turned out to be easy and delicious, and economical!

For the record, I am not vegetarian or vegan.  I don’t endorse any style of eating, except that of using and eating quality, healthy food.  Life is too short to eat bad food!


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Posted by HSA Admin at 3/26/2013 4:50:00 PM
Friday, February 15, 2013

We're excited to announce we've recently made a couple big updates to our website!  Both the "Pharmacy Locator Tool" and the "Prescription Pricing Tool" have received an upgrade, and they're now live and fully functional on AmericanHealthValue.com!

Pharmacy Locator Tool:
The Pharmacy Locator Tool allows you to type in your city/state or zip code, select a search radius & view all the pharmacies in your area that accept our Free Pharmacy Discount Card.  Previously, we just listed those pharmacies in a text format and provided a phone number you could call to contact them.  With today's update, we've integrated Google Maps!
 
Google Maps Integration with Pharmacy Discount Program
You can now actually see all the available pharmacies in your area, you can pan/zoom around, click to view phone numbers & addresses, & plug the information into your cell phone or GPS device for easy navigation!  Big upgrade!
 
Prescription Pricing Tool:
The Prescription Pricing Tool allows you to type in a drug of your choice, the daily dosage & the number of days you'll be taking the prescription.  You'll then be shown the real-time cost of the drug at your local participating pharmacy, the cost of its generic version (if available) and the cost for those drugs using a mail order service.
 
Pharmacy Discount Program
This feature finally gives you the option to do some price shopping and comparisons on your prescriptions from the comfort of your own home.  What's even more impressive, is that most of the people that use this Free Pharmacy Discount Card typically see significant savings on their prescriptions; in some cases as much as 65%!
 

Go type in your prescriptions & see how much you could be saving at a local participating pharmacy!


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Posted by HSA Admin at 2/15/2013 5:12:00 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live to Bfit 5k Run/Walk

Once again members of the American Health Value staff participated in the Live to Bfit 5k Run/Walk sponsored by the Idaho Business League.  This 5k benefited Camp River Run and was held in conjunction with the 20th annual Health, Beauty and Fitness Fair.

AHV Staff at the Live to Bfit 5k

This year's event was held last weekend on Saturday, October 6th.  It was a beautiful Autumn day made all the more exciting by the repeated sighting of a young cougar along the Greenbelt (race route) down by the Boise River.  We're happy to report that nobody was eaten, and fun was had by all!

Camp River Run

About Camp River Run:  Inspired by nature and flowing with optimism, Camp River Run offers children who battle life-threatening or disabling medical conditions an outdoor camp experience to rejuvenate their youth and strengthen their spirits!  To donate, or to learn more about Camp River Run visit their website:  http://www.CampRiverRun.org


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Posted by HSA Admin at 10/16/2012 5:50:00 PM
Friday, September 14, 2012

American Health Value at IHC Forum West 2012

Last week we had the opportunity to head down to Las Vegas, NV for the annual IHC Forum West Conference!  This particular conference is 100% dedicated to consumer-driven healthcare, innovative health and benefits management, and tips and strategies for navigating today’s uncertain and ever-changing healthcare landscape.
 
We had the chance to sit down with so many amazing people from companies large and small, from all across the nation.  Everyone had the same goals in mind: advance consumer-driven healthcare regardless of the political climate, and help to educate and implement it into the nation’s work force.  
 

Attendees at IHCForum West ranged all over the board from national banks to massive employers like Target, to national hospitals, insurance carriers, and tech startups.  We wanted to highlight one in particular, as an example of the forward-thinking individuals and companies we got the chance to network with during the event.  Below is our National Marketing Director Rebecca Messreni with a man by the name of Aaron Burke, who founded OVO Health.

Rebecca with OVO Health at IHC Forum West 2012

OVO Health is a tech startup that will shortly be launching in several major cities across the country.  As they state on their website, “Why pay $50,000 for a knee replacement when the same quality of care costs $15,000 down the street?”  OVO Health lets you type in your zip, pick your procedure, and see all the local (registered) doctors and their pricing.  This is a brilliant way to create an open free-market system with cost transparency for the patients, while simultaneously creating a great marketing and branding opportunity for the local doctors’ offices to earn new (and recurring) business.

OVO Health

 

Brilliant idea, especially when it’s applied with consumer-driven health care & health savings accounts.  People are spending their own money, and they want to shop around and be better consumers.  This kind of thinking coupled with this kind of technology allows them to do just that, and very effectively!


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Posted by HSA Admin at 9/14/2012 7:10:00 PM
Friday, June 8, 2012

New HSA Announcement!

Yesterday afternoon we (finally!) launched all of our brand new Health Savings Account Forms at American Health Value, sitewide!  There are hundreds of both new & updated forms for all sorts of different topics:

  • New & Updated Educational Materials
    • Basic to Advanced HSA Information, HSA FAQ's, Employer/Employee "How To" Walkthroughs, etc.
  • New & Updated Marketing Materials
    • Pieces like "HSA vs. Traditional PPO Plans", "The HSA Concept", "Why Use American Health Value", etc.
  • New & Updated Client Forms
    • Deposit Slips, HSA Applications, Rollover Forms, etc.
We took a look back and every single form, and not a one was left untouched.  Some of these forms have just received a new, updated look.  Others however, have been the subjects of a complete overhaul.
 
We've added improvements to everything from functionality, readability & ease-of-use to updated 2012/2013 HSA figures, up-to-the-minute HSA Legislation & online-fillable PDF forms that allow people to type in their information on the form and send it back electronically.
 
QR Codes on American Health Value's HSA Forms
 
 
We've even gone so far as to put QR codes on all our forms that can be printed off & handed out to employees, employers & insurance agents.  This will ensure that if you have a question on one of the forms or any of its content, you'll be able to interact with us immediately (via your smartphone) through our website, phone number and/or social media profiles to get your questions answered on the spot!
 
Below you'll find a nice graphic comparing one of our old forms to the same thing in the newer version, and a couple links to some new forms.  We think it's a huge improvement, what do you guys think?  Let us know in the comment section below!
 
Old HSA Forms vs. New HSA Forms
 
 
Link to our Health Savings Account Deposit Form (shown above)

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Posted by HSA Admin at 6/8/2012 5:30:00 PM
Friday, April 27, 2012

MS Walk 2012

Last weekend many of our employees jumped at the opportunity to get together and volunteer at the annual Walk MS Run/Walk sponsored by the National MS Society.

The Walk MS Run/Walk takes place at numerous cities across the country each year and is the National MS Society's rallying point.  It's a time and a place for everyone to stand together and be together - to help raise critical funds that support cutting-edge research, drive change through advocacy, facilitate professional education and provide programs and services to help people with MS move their lives forward.

Visit their website to see all the MS Walks around the country and join the movement in your state!
 
"Wall of Hope" and "The Starting Gun"
Wall of Hope MS Walk 2012 The Starting Gun MS Walk 2012
 
Boise's Walk MS was a huge success, and all together the local teams were able to raise over $65,000 to help support the cause and fight this terrible disease.  All of us from American Health Value had a wonderful time volunteering for the event, and definitely plan on participating again next year.
 
Take a look at some of the great photos our resident photographer Robin shot last weekend during the event below!
 


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Posted by HSA Admin at 4/27/2012 6:04:00 PM
Entries 1-10 of 16
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