How Do I Start a Health Savings Account?

By Emily Greenhill Pierce · January 24, 2024 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How Do I Start a Health Savings Account?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be set up in three simple steps, and once it’s up and running, it can help you bridge the gap between what your health insurance covers and your actual costs, among other benefits.

Let’s face it: Many of us these days select a High Deductible Health Plan, or HDHP, when it comes to health insurance. That means you may be paying a lower monthly premium in exchange for a high deductible. You could potentially get hit with a lot of unforeseen healthcare expenses before your benefits kick in. And even after you meet that deductible, you may have charges that are not reimbursed. A Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you set money aside to fill that gap.

Setting up an HSA may sound intimidating, as if you’ll have to fill out reams of paperwork, but that’s not at all the case! Whether through an employer or on your own, once you’re ready to start saving, the steps to opening an HSA account can be as simple as filling out an online form with basic information — easy peasy.

Here’s a look at the steps involved, plus a few important considerations before you take the leap.

What Is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

The HSA will be turning 21 soon: In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act which created the Health Savings Account. These accounts were meant to help people with high deductible health plans set aside money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses: copays, dental care, eyeglasses, prescriptions, psychiatric help, and more. This can happen both before and after you reach your deductible.

In addition to covering health costs, these tax-free accounts can lower your amount of federal income tax owed. What’s more, HSAs can help with saving for retirement and unforeseen emergencies.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

How Does an HSA Work?

A Health Savings Account can work just like a checking account. You can make deposits (or contributions), pay bills online, make transfers, and even pay for qualified medical expenses with an HSA debit card. You are free to withdraw HSA funds at any time to pay for health costs not covered by your high deductible health plan. One big note: Once you enroll in Medicare, you can no longer contribute to an HSA.

Deposits can also be contributed by your employer, with direct deposits made into your HSA straight from payroll. A nice aspect of these plans: Health Savings Account contributions roll over every year, so you don’t have to race to spend the pre-tax funds in your account. If you stay healthy, you can build up your emergency fund as well as your retirement nest egg. Your good health can lead to wealth down the line!

Who Can Open an HSA?

According to Federal Guidelines, you qualify to open a Health Savings Account if you:

•   Are covered under a high deductible health plan, or HDHP.

•   Are not covered by any other health plan, including a spouse’s.

•   Are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

•   Are not enrolled in a disqualifying alternate medical savings account, such as an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or an MSA (a Medicare medical savings account).

•   Are not currently enrolled in Medicare.

How to Set Up a Health Savings Account

Once you’ve established that the pros outweigh the cons, you may wonder exactly how to set up a Health Savings Account (HSA). Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward:

Step 1: Research Your HSA Options

If an HSA plan is offered directly through your employer, go to Step Two.
If you’re self-employed, investigate HSA options online, or reach out to banks or other financial entities.

Step 2: Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork

The set-up for an HSA is not unlike opening a bank account. You’ll be provided with paperwork or an online form, where you’ll give basic information such as your Social Security Number and proof of your identity (typically verified by a government-issued photo ID).

Step 3: Complete Verification

Be prepared to offer verification of your high deductible health plan (HDHP).

That’s it! It’s a quick and simple process to set up a Health Savings Account.

Once your HSA is up and running, you may be able to opt for automatic regular deposits from your bank account or straight from your paycheck. There is no minimum amount required to open an HSA, but you typically need at least $1,000 in the account in order to invest in certain mutual funds.

HSA Contribution Limits

For tax year 2023, HSA contribution limits are $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families with HDHP coverage. Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. For 2024, HSA contribution limits are $4,150 for individuals and $8,300 for families. Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. There is never a minimum requirement for deposits. Some ground rules to be aware of:

•  You are covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP), described later, on the first day of the month.

•  You have no supplemental health coverage except what is permitted under other health coverage.

•  You aren’t enrolled in Medicare.

•  You can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Advantages of an HSA

There are many benefits to opening an HSA. Sure, it can provide a cushion or safety net when it comes to out-of-pocket medical costs. But there are other perks beyond covering the price of a new pair of glasses.

Covering Expenses for You and Your Family

From ambulances to acupuncture, a Health Savings Account can cover the costs your HDHP doesn’t. The IRS has an extensive listof ways you can use your HSA funds. One example: Did you know you can also use your Health Savings Account to pay for medical expenses for a spouse or a child — anyone who is part of your tax household — even if they aren’t on your HDHP? It’s true!

Lowering Taxable Income

Here’s another bonus to having this kind of account: Your HSA contributions are made before taxes are deducted, thereby lowering your taxable income. As a result, you may pay less in taxes.

Rollover Contributions

There’s no “use-it-or-lose it” pressure when you have a Health Savings Account. Unused HSA funds don’t disappear at the end of the year. You can roll them over again and again, accumulating tax-free interest. Those earnings can turn into savings to be invested in the future or used for life’s little surprises — say, a chipped tooth.

Saving for Retirement

At age 65, you can start using the funds in your Health Savings Account for anything, without penalty. Withdrawals will be taxed the same as they would from a 401(k) or IRA, but any funds waiting for use will avoid taxes while earning interest.

Additionally, if you are lucky enough to be able to max out your annual IRA and/or 401(k) contributions, an HSA is another way to save more tax-free money toward retirement. Beyond covering copays, an HSA is a great way to get your money working for you.

💡 Quick Tip: Most savings accounts only earn a fraction of a percentage in interest. Not at SoFi. Our high-yield savings account can help you make meaningful progress towards your financial goals.

Disadvantages of an HSA

Okay, now you know the upside of opening an HSA. But there are potential downsides that are worth knowing about and considering before you sign up.

Penalties for Unqualified Expenses

Until you turn 65, HSA funds cannot be used for anything but eligible medical expenses. To do so would subject withdrawals to income taxes and a 20% penalty.

Monthly Fees

Health Saving Account providers may charge a monthly fee. These fees generally tend to be lower than $5 bucks per month, but they do add up. While there are providers out there that don’t charge account management fees, all will assess an investment fee. Do your homework to find the vehicle with the lowest fees.

Potential Losses

Like an IRA or 401(k), any invested money in an HSA can mean monetary gains and losses. As with any investment account, you need to be prepared for your HSA balance to dip if the market trends downward.

Keeping Tabs for Your Tax Records

HSA contributions and expenditures must be reported on your tax return. It may not be a deal-breaker, but for some people, keeping records of your HSA activity can be a nuisance.

HSA Advantages vs. Disadvantages


•   Covers an extensive list of out-of-pocket health expenses

•   Can be used for family members

•   Lowers taxable income and therefore may decrease your taxes

•   Contributions roll over to the next year

•   Promotes tax-free savings for retirement

•   Penalties for nonqualified expenses

•   Unexpected and potentially hidden fees

•   Account balance can fluctuate with the marketplace

•   Activity must be reported on your tax return

Things to Consider When Choosing an HSA

If your job offers a Health Saving Plans, great! They’ve done the research for you. Employers may also offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). But unlike FSAs, which are owned by an employer and can be inflexible, a Health Savings Account has higher contribution limits and is controlled by you.

If you are self-employed, do your research. You’ll find an array of Health Savings Plans to choose among; HSA comparison websites can help you navigate the search. Remember to pay attention to any monthly/annual fees so you know exactly what to expect. Ideally, you’ll want an HSA that makes it easy to manage your account online. Many banks and credit unions offer HSAs, so check with your financial institution.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

The Takeaway

Once you’ve made the decision to enroll in a Health Savings Account, the steps to set it up are relatively painless. You can start using your HSA funds right away to help cover qualified health-related costs. Contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, don’t need to be used up by the end of the year, and can potentially even help boost your retirement fund. A Health Savings Account goes beyond just covering your healthcare expenses and can serve as one of the best tax-advantaged savings vehicles available. It can enhance your sense of security and keep your wealth growing.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


How do I set up an HSA account?

With a valid government-issued photo ID, Social Security number, and proof of your HDHP, you can fill out a basic paper or online HSA form, provided by an employer or financial institution.

Can I start an HSA on my own?

Yes. As long as you are enrolled in an HDHP and not covered under someone else’s policy, you can start an HSA.

How much does it cost to open an HSA?

The initial sign-up is free, and there is no minimum deposit amount to start. But expect investment fees and possibly monthly management fees.

Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender