Health Savings Accounts (HSA) have become one of the more popular benefits that companies can offer their employees. While older people may not have been able to take advantage of this benefit in the past, since 2003, they have become a part of the medical landscape, often tied to a company health plan (although individuals can set them up for themselves).
One of the big benefits behind why HSAs were created in the first place is that the money deposited in them is tax-free income at the time of deposit. That income isn’t taxed until withdrawn. Whether or not that is actually an advantage for people depends a lot on what their medical needs are. For people who are healthy and don’t use the account, this can be another way of saving for retirement, when most people’s medical expenses go up.
But for those of us who are preppers, a HSA can be an additional source of income for buying prepping supplies. While you can’t buy just anything with a HSA, there are a lot of useful things you can buy with it. If your employer contributes to your HSA, that makes it like your employer is helping you to prep.
Before You Spend
Before going nuts with that money in your HSA, it’s a good idea to do what you have to do to make sure that your health is up to par. It doesn’t matter how many supplies you have, even how many medical supplies, if you aren’t in good enough health to make it; and in saying that, I’m including having the physical strength and stamina to do the various tasks associated with survival.
Another part of this is taking care of any dental problems, especially serious ones. There are a lot of people who wait until a cavity is infected, before they will go to the dentist to get it taken care of. The thing is, you might not be able to go to the dentist to get it taken care of in a post-disaster world. That means depending on your buddy to pull that tooth out with a pair of pliers and no pain killer. Ouch!
Being healthy when going into a survival situation is worth more than anything that you can buy with the money in that HSA; and unless there is something seriously wrong with you, you’ll probably still have plenty of money left over that you can use to buy health and medical related prepping supplies.
So, just what prepping supplies can you buy with the money in your HSA?
The most obvious place to start using that money is in buying or building a good first-aid kit.
By “good” I’m actually referring to two different things. The first is that it be a trauma kit, able to be used to treat major injuries.
A little $19.95 first-aid kit isn’t going to be able to deal with the types of injures that any of us are likely to receive in a survival situation.
The other thing is that the kit be in-depth, meaning that there are more than one of the various supplies. Having a bandage large enough to handle a gunshot wound is great; but you really need several of them.
Medical Monitoring and Protection
Some types of medical monitoring equipment, such as blood pressure monitors, thermometers and a pulse oximeter are eligible for purchase with a HSA. All the personal protection equipment (PPE), such as masks and gloves, that we’ve been buying for COVID are reimbursable under the rules of a HSA.
Considering the possibility of another pandemic, stocking up now, while those items are available, makes a lot of sense.
Durable Medical Equipment
Some of us are getting older or may have aging parents. That adds additional survival challenges. Some of those same challenges, like mobility, can exist due to injuries incurred while trying to survive, rather than age.
Crutches, canes, wheelchairs and a variety of other equipment can be bought with a HSA, allowing you to have those items on-hand, just in case.
Spare Pair of Eyeglasses
Those of us who wear prescription eyeglasses can find ourselves all but incapacitated without them. Yet those glasses are fragile items, which can easily become damaged or even destroyed. A spare pair of glasses is a small investment to make, in order to ensure that you’ll still be able to see after a disaster.
Better yet, that small investment can come out of the funds in your HSA.
Diabetes Test Supplies
For those with diabetes, you can buy diabetic testing supplies (needles and strips) with the money in your HSA. You may not have to touch this money though, as many health plans also include free diabetic supplies.
Either way, diabetics should have the means to monitor their blood sugar, even in the event of a disaster, so it’s a good idea to have extra supplies.
One actual advantage that a survival situation offers the type 2 diabetic is that when they do encounter that their blood sugar is high, they can just do some physical work to bring it down, burning off that excess sugar. Over the long term, most of us will lose weight during that post-disaster time, which could very well allow most diabetic’s bodies to heal, eliminating the diabetes.
Food for Guide Dog
This one doesn’t apply to many people; but if you’ve got a family member who has a service animal, such as a guide dog, you can actually buy food for that dog with the HSA. An extra hundred pounds of dog food, or more, is a good addition to your prepping stockpile, allowing you to save your canned meat for your family, rather than the dog.
In a pinch, your family can even eat the dog food.
Hearing Aids & Batteries
This one goes back to the idea of taking care of your health needs now, using the money in the HSA, rather than waiting until it’s too late.
Hearing aids are expensive, so getting a hearing aid now, if it looks like you might need one, is a good idea, even if you don’t actually use it now.
Better to have it and be prepared, if it looks like your hearing is going that way, than to need it and not have it. Batteries for those hearing aids may not be a big expense, but it’s nice to be able to stock up on them, without having to take the money out of your pocket.
Probably one of the first groups of people to die off in the wake of a TEOTWAWKI event will be those who need prescription medications to deal with chronic conditions. Whether that is nothing more than high blood pressure or is something that keeps people from functioning normally, those medicines are essential for the individual’s lives. But once the brown stuff hits the air movement device, they won’t be able to get them anymore.
Taking advantage of your HSA to help alleviate this situation is either going to require an understanding doctor or a trip to Mexico. The understanding doctor can write prescriptions, allowing you to buy enough of the medicine to last a year or more. While that isn’t a permanent solution, it will help.
If your family doctor isn’t understanding, you can probably buy the same medications in Mexico, even without a prescription. The challenge there is getting reimbursed from the HSA, but that’s just a hassle, it’s not impossible.
As with other prescription medicines, an understanding doctor can help you with stockpiling antibiotics. While not everything can be treated with antibiotics, many things, including many common things, can.
Keeping a few general-purpose, broad-spectrum antibiotics on-hand should be an essential part of your prepping stockpile.
Antibiotics can be purchased in Mexico at any pharmacy, without a prescription. You can even get them in bottles of 100 pills. Be sure to take spend some time online, downloading information on what each should be used for and dosage charts.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Along with the aforementioned over-the-counter medications, the CARES act allows for the purchase of feminine hygiene products with FSA funds. That may not make much of a difference to any men reading this article, but I guarantee you, it will to your wife and daughters.
Hidden away in the Coronavirus Aid (CARES) Act was a provision, allowing most over-the-counter medications to be purchased with HSA funds. This includes such common items as pain relievers, nasal sprays, laxatives, allergy and sinus medicine, acid reducers and eye drops.
Make Home Improvements
If anyone in the family has a chronic health issue that requires modifications to the home, such as adding in a ramp for someone who is wheelchair bound, the law allows for expenditures from a HSA to make these modifications. Some restrictions do apply to this and it may be necessary to get a note from your doctor, so check on it before making any construction plans.
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