The presenter suggested we keep records of our claims for 10+ years in paper form. This seemed to be overkill.
It would be overkill if you're taking distributions regularly and you have enough valid (and otherwise unreimbursed) medical receipts each year to correspond to your distributions. However, if you are pumping money into the HSA without regular distributions, then you may need to keep receipts for a long time, possibly since the beginning of your HSA. For example:
- You max out the HSA every year to get the tax deduction, you don't take any distributions, and you invest the funds into a growth fund (tax free growth in the HSA).
- 30 years later, you have $500K in your HSA and you decide you want to spend it.
- If you have valid medical receipts totaling $500K over the last 30 years, you can withdraw the money all at once without paying a dime of tax. But, when you are audited you will need to show $500K worth of receipts, and you'd probably have to go back quite a few years to accumulate that much.
If the IRS was to audit my HSA deductions would the Aetna online claims be adequate?
It's better than nothing, but it is not ideal. You need to provide proof of what you actually paid, not just what was billed. (How would the IRS know if you actually paid the bill?) So, the bill and receipt together would be preferred. Also, there are many eligible expenses for HSA that would not be covered by your health insurance and would not appear in your Aetna statements (dental work for example). Personally I have an excel spreadsheet with every eligible expense listed, every contribution and distribution I make, and a box of receipts since I opened the HSA account.
Should I also archive screenshots of these claims digitally somewhere?
If you have the time and diligence to do it, then it wouldn't hurt. I personally am only one house fire away from having to make a lot of phone calls if I wanted to re-build my receipts folder from scratch. I actually have "scan my HSA receipts" on my todo list (where's it been for years as a pretty low priority).
Lastly it makes sense to spend the money in my HSA on anything eligible because you can never roll it over into a retirement account, its shaky if another person (spouse) could get reimbursed for eligible medical expenses if you die, and if you lose your receipts you may not be able to spend all of the HSA money tax free. Is this an accurate assessment or is there a reason why I should not touch the HSA money at all and wait to reimburse my eligible expenses.
First off, if you are married the HSA can be transferred to your spouse. But in general, it really depends on what you would do with the money if you distributed it right away. If you need the money to pay debts, bills, etc, then it might make sense to take it, but if it would be extra money that you would invest somewhere, then you should leave it in the HSA because it grows tax free while it's in there and (probably) wouldn't if you take it out. The caveat though is that you need to find an HSA administrator that offers your preferred investment choices. As for your worry that you might lose your receipts, well, that's a valid point- but I wouldn't drive my decision based on that- I would archive them digitally to remove that concern completely.
...Should I reimburse myself from ... the HSA funds if I am not hitting the 401k limit yet?
It depends. If it's a Roth 401k, all other things being equal, (you are able to choose the same investments with your HSA as you can choose in your 401K, and the costs are the same), then you are better off leaving the money in your HSA rather than pulling it out and putting it into the Roth 401k. The reason is that there is no tax difference, and once you put it into the 401K you (probably) can't touch it (for free) until you retire. With the HSA, if you could have taken a distribution but chose not to, then you can take that amount of money out anytime you want to without any consequences, just like your normal checking account. However, if you have a traditional 401k, and if taking HSA distributions would increase your cash flow such that you could afford to contribute more to the 401k, then this would lower your tax burden that year by reducing your taxable income.