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Here is the situation and what I would like to do:

My wife and I are on separate HDHP with our respective employers, which means we are eligible for 2 HSA accounts and 2 solo limits for a total of $7100 for 2020 tax year. (well minus one month since my wife's begins Feb 1 and just going to prorate rather than doing a test year)

I opened my HSA account during the previous year's enrollment which would begin Jan 1 but I declined my wife's (because I thought because we were both on HDHP, we could still contribute 2 solo limits into my one account) or I planned to open it later in the year as we were expecting a child so we knew she was going to hit her deductible.

Well, we had a serious medical emergency on January 8th with an ambulance ride and an extended hospital stay for her. Her deductible is $4500 and I am not sure if the ambulance will be in-network or out of network, so looking at well over my solo amount of $3550 with just her medical bills. Within a couple days of this event, I had the idea to contact my Wife's employer and ask about opening her HSA. I got the approval and it will go into effect on February 1st. So here is what I was hoping to do without throwing up red flags with the IRS:

I put my solo maximum of $3550 into my HSA account and then once my wife's HSA account opens on Feb 1, put her pro-rated maximum of around $3100 also into my account. A couple reasons I feel this is okay: I read on the IRS website that spouses can contribute their money however they feel between HSA accounts, even choosing to give one account $0 and the other the 2 solo maximum amounts. I also read that you can't use your HSA to pay for bills from before the account was opened, so my wife's HSA opening on Feb 1st can't pay for her bills, but my HSA account was open before the medical event so it is eligible to pay for her bills.

Does this seem okay? Trying to maximize our 2 HSAs without breaking the law. Thanks!


The primary question is if it is okay to use the 2 solo contributions (of $6700) for medical bills from before the 2nd HSA account was active, even though my account WAS active when the qualifying medical expenses happened, or if I can only use my $3550 contribution for those expenses and my wife’s contributions for medical expenses after Feb 1st.

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This won't work exactly as you proposed. Each person can only contribute to their own HSA (meaning your wife can't contribute money into yours). Had one of you had an HDHP that covered both of you, then you could contribute the $7100 to that single HSA, but since you both have individual HDHPs, you must each have your own HSA with an individual limit of $3550 for 2020. But you can still put the $3550 in yours and then take it out (as soon as it clears) to pay the bill (or if you already paid it). The catch now though is that your wife cannot use her HSA to pay for the Jan 8 bill. But she can still put money into her account and use it for either of your expenses that happen after Feb 1. If you don't have many expenses this year, then in the worst case scenario you'll have to float the remaining portion of the bill until Jan 1, 2021. On that day you can fill your own HSA back up and then withdraw it to pay yourself back for your wife's Jan 8, 2020 expense.

Note, specifically, I don't believe this is true:

I read on the IRS website that spouses can contribute their money however they feel between HSA accounts, even choosing to give one account $0 and the other the 2 solo maximum amounts.

If you can find the reference for that I'd be interested to see it...

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  • The fact that one of you had an HSA account on Jan 8 is all that is needed to make the entire bill eligible. Really? Even though they're on totally separate HDHPs and separate HSAs? I don't have any reason to believe otherwise and certainly can't disprove what you're saying, I just wouldn't expect it to work like that. Can you find any reference that backs that up?
    – dwizum
    Jan 17 '20 at 17:53
  • @dwizum - having an open HSA account when an expense occurs is all that is required for an expense to be eligible (even if there is no money in the account). Then, having an HDHP is required to contribute money into the HSA. Then, an eligible expense includes yours, your spouse, and your dependents. Here's a related answer with references: money.stackexchange.com/a/119118/17718
    – TTT
    Jan 17 '20 at 18:28
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    @dwizum - thanks for sticking to your guns and pointing that out! I agree with you, and I just updated the answer to reflect this.
    – TTT
    Jan 17 '20 at 19:48
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    No problem. This question was a bit of a mind bender from a logic perspective and didn't really fit into any normal cookie cutter eligibility rules I'm familiar with.
    – dwizum
    Jan 17 '20 at 20:21
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    @dwizum - heh, yeah, I didn't want this to be true but it is: "I can't pay for my own expense, but my spouse can pay for it". But I think we got it right in the end. ;)
    – TTT
    Jan 17 '20 at 20:31

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