- Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Yes. You can open and contribute to an HSA at age 65 or later as long as you meet the following HSA eligibility requirements:
- You’re covered by an HSA-qualified medical plan, like the Health Savings Plan.
- You’re not someone’s tax dependent.
- You don’t have any conflicting coverage (for example, you or your spouse are not enrolled in a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account that can reimburse your expenses [even if your spouse works somewhere else] or you’re not enrolled in Medicare).
Yes. Medicare doesn’t offer an HSA-qualified medical plan. If you have an HSA before enrolling in Medicare, you can’t make contributions to your HSA after you enroll in any part of Medicare, even if you’re also covered by an HSA-qualified health care plan.
No. You’re enrolled in Part A (inpatient services) automatically only if you are age 65 or older and receiving Social Security benefits. You must elect enrollment in Part B (outpatient services) if you are age 65 or older and receiving Social Security Benefits.
You’re enrolled in Part A automatically if you’re collecting Social Security disability benefits or are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as “ALS” or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”). Otherwise, you must sign up to receive coverage through Medicare.
If you qualify for premium-free Part A, your coverage will be retroactive to 6 months before the date you sign up. So, you should stop making contributions to your HSA 6 months before you enroll in Part A and Part B (or apply for Social Security benefits, if you want to collect retirement benefits before you stop working). For more information on Medicare enrollment, please refer to Medicare & You or call the Social Security Administration customer service center: 800.772.1213.
Yes. Your spouse may continue making contributions to the HSA unless he/she also becomes ineligible to contribute. Once you enroll in Medicare, your spouse’s maximum allowable contribution amount will depend upon your situation. You should discuss this with your tax adviser.
- Mary and Joe Smith, a married couple, are covered by the Health Savings Plan; they have no disqualifying coverage during 2023.
- Mary and Joe each are age 65 in 2023—Mary in May and Joe in October.
- The Smiths have Employee and Spouse coverage under the Health Savings Plan for four months (4/12ths of a year) before Mary, who turns 65 in May, enrolls in Medicare.
The Smiths—Mary and Joe together—may contribute a total of $2,583 ($7,750 x 4/12) to an HSA. This amount can be divided between their HSAs in any way they choose.
Joe, who turns 65 in October, keeps his Healthy Savings Plan coverage through September and enrolls in Medicare in October. Joe would be allowed an additional HSA contribution of $1,604 for five months ($3,850 x 5/12). Note: Five is the number of months of Employee Only coverage that Joe had (May – September) following the four months of Employee and Spouse coverage (January – April) and before he turned age 65 and enrolled in Medicare in October.
Mary and Joe can make HSA catch-up contributions, too. Mary can make catch-up contributions for four months and Joe for nine months. These are the number of months in 2023 before Mary and Joe, respectively, reached age 65 and enrolled in disqualifying coverage.
No. You cannot contribute to an HSA once you enroll in Medicare.
Yes. If your spouse is HSA-eligible and has an HSA, you can contribute to his/her HSA. Your enrollment in Medicare doesn’t disqualify your spouse from contributing to (or accepting contribution from others into) his/her HSA.
Yes. Once you open an HSA, you can receive tax-free distributions from your account for eligible expenses for the rest of your life, up to the balance in your account at the time of a claim.
The expenses for which you can be reimbursed from your HSA once you are enrolled in Medicare are the same as the eligible expenses for which you could be reimbursed when you were not enrolled in Medicare. Eligible expenses include the following:
- Medical plan deductibles, coinsurance and copays
- Unreimbursed dental and vision care expenses, including deductibles, coinsurance and copays
- Insulin and diabetic supplies
- Over-the-counter equipment and supplies
- Over-the-counter drugs and medicine, with a doctor’s prescription.
In addition, when premiums are deducted from Social Security benefits, you can be reimbursed for certain insurance premiums, including premiums for:
You can be reimbursed from your HSA for eligible expenses you have for yourself, your spouse and any dependents listed on your income tax return (such as a disabled adult child). Your spouse and dependents listed on your income tax return don’t need to be HSA-eligible or covered under the Health Savings Plan for you to receive reimbursement.
NOTE: You can’t be reimbursed for your own or anyone else’s Medicare premiums until you, as the account owner, reach age 65.
No. You can be reimbursed for each other’s expenses from each of your respective HSAs, as long as you are married to each other. However, you and your spouse can’t combine your accounts.
No. If you use your HSA to be reimbursed for non-eligible expenses, you’ll pay income tax on the reimbursement. However if, after you turn 65 or meet the Social Security definition of disabled, you will not pay the additional 20 percent tax penalty for reimbursement of non-eligible expenses.
If you name your spouse as the beneficiary for your HSA, when you die, your HSA passes to your spouse with balances and tax advantages intact. Your spouse can then be reimbursed for his/her own eligible expenses tax-free. (You name a beneficiary when you enroll in your HSA, and you can change the designation at any time.)
If you name any other person or entity other than your spouse as the beneficiary for your HSA, the value of your HSA will be distributed to that person as cash, for which that person may need to pay income taxes.
Here are the potential tax consequences if you delay enrolling in Medicare around your 65th birthday when you’re entitled to an Initial Enrollment Period:
- Part A (inpatient services): If you (or your spouse) worked 40 employment quarters with income above the Medicare threshold, you receive no-cost Medicare Part A. You face no penalties for delaying enrollment in Part A past your Initial Enrollment Period.
- Part B (outpatient services): If you don’t enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period, you must be covered through your or your spouse’s group coverage through active employment to avoid subsequent penalties. For every 12 months past your 65th birthday that you don’t maintain group coverage, you pay a 10 percent surcharge on your monthly Part B premium for the rest of your life. In addition, you may face a gap in coverage when you do want to enroll, since you’ll have to wait until the next General Enrollment Period to enroll in benefits effective the following July 1.
- Part D (prescription drug coverage): If you don’t enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period, you must maintain group or non-group coverage that offers prescription drug benefits that are at least as rich as Part D. If you don’t, you’re assessed a permanent surcharge of 1 percent of the national base beneficiary premium for every month since your 65th birthday that your coverage isn’t “Medicare Creditable Coverage (MCC).” In addition, you may face a gap in coverage when you want to enroll. You’ll have to wait for the next General Enrollment Period to enroll in benefits effective the following January 1.
That’s a personal decision that you should discuss with your financial advisor.
HealthSafe ID is Optum’s website authentication protocol. It helps ensure your account remains safe and secure. Many Optum websites use HealthSafe ID, so you can access your information with a single username and password.
If you have not registered for a HealthSafe ID, you will need to do so before you can access your account. To register on Optum Bank:
- Visit optumbank.com.
- Follow the prompts to create your unique HealthSafe ID. You’ll provide your full legal name, birthdate, primary ZIP code, email, phone number, and Social Security Number or Employee ID.
- Confirm your email and phone number, as prompted.
Not sure if you have a HealthSafe ID? Use the “Recover my Username” feature to check.
Still having problems? Contact Optum Bank at 866.234.8913, Option 1.
To find a UMR provider, visit the UMR site. Select "Search for a Provider." Then, search by name, specialty, location, service, cost and more. Or, call UMR: 888.438.6105
To find a dentist in the BlueCross BlueShield network, visit the BlueCross BlueShield site and search by city, ZIP code, distance, doctor name or specialty.
The out-of-pocket maximum is the most you pay during the calendar year before the plan pays 100% for covered health expenses. The out-of-pocket maximum includes the deductible, coinsurance and copays you pay for covered services.
SmartCare is available only at UAMS facilities and at the Walker Health Center at UA Fayetteville. Examples of facilities where SmartCare is NOT available include:
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital
- Dennis Development Center
- UAMS Pediatricians who see patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital
- Baptist Rehab Institute for Outpatient Therapy
- Baptist Psychiatric Facility
- Freeway Dialysis Services
- VA Hospitals in Little Rock and North Little Rock
- NW Arkansas Centers for Children (located in Lowell)
- UAMS physicians with privileges at other non-UAMS facilities.
SmartCare facilities include:
- UAMS Hospital and Outpatient Clinics
- Pat Walker Health Center
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock Health Center
- UAMS neighborhood clinics in West Little Rock, Rahling Road, Maumelle, Capitol Mall
- Regional Family Medical Centers located throughout the state
- UAMS Psychiatric Providers, including Child Study Center, NWA Outpatient, and STRIVE
- University Women’s Health Center
- UAMS physicians who bill through MCPG but are located at Freeway Medical or Baptist Inpatient Rehab (which are not SmartCare facilities).
Mid-Year Benefit Changes
Qualifying life events include birth/adoption, divorce/legal separation, marriage, changes in employment status (going to part-time/full-time), termination of employment, becoming age 65 (Medicare-eligible), retiring, death, loss of eligibility for other coverage or employer contributions for other coverage ending, a dependent reaching age 26, or a Qualified Medical Child Support Order (from a court of law) indicating you must provide coverage for a dependent.
Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to review your current benefits coverage, think about your benefits needs for the coming year and decide which plan will meet those needs. You can change your coverage and/or add or remove enrolled dependents, as needed.
Open Enrollment is typically each fall, for coverage effective January 1 of the following year. If you don’t enroll or make changes to your coverage during Open Enrollment, you’ll have to wait until the following Open Enrollment period to make changes, unless you have a qualifying life event.
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle. It is a pool of money collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in stocks, bonds, money market instruments and other assets.
No; participation is voluntary. You don’t have to see your doctor or complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice. However, you will not receive wellness incentives unless you complete both steps. Plus you will have an extra $50 tobacco surcharge each month if you do not complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice.
No; the wellness program only applies to employees enrolled in a University medical plan. If you use tobacco and you are not enrolled in a University medical plan, the $50 surcharge does not apply.
To earn incentives, you have to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice during Open Enrollment.
You can earn the following incentives, based on your medical plan coverage:
- Classic Plan: Medical out-of-pocket maximum savings of $1,250 individual/$2,500 family
- Premier Plan: Medical out-of-pocket maximum savings of $500 individual/$1,000 family
To avoid the $50 surcharge you have to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice. If you attest to using tobacco products, you’ll have to commit to a tobacco cessation program as part of the Tobacco Pledge and Notice.
If you did not complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice during Open Enrollment, or you didn’t commit to a tobacco cessation program, you’ll pay the $50 per month tobacco surcharge.
No, the incentives are tied to your participation. You—the employee—must complete the wellness program requirements in order for wellness incentives to be applied to covered family members.
No; only the employee can participate and receive incentives.
Program participation tracking only includes completion status—a yes/no indicator. No individual medical information is used in determining wellness program completion.
Using tobacco contributes to chronic and serious diseases, which results in increased health care costs that affect all medical plan members. The goal isn’t to collect $50 from participants. Rather, the surcharge is intended to draw attention to tobacco use and create a financial incentive for tobacco users to begin the process of quitting.
Yes; a number of universities currently apply similar fees, including:
- University of South Carolina
- University of Georgia System
- University of Missouri System
- Texas A&M University.
Employees enrolled in a University medical plan must self-identify their use of tobacco. Non-users will NOT pay the surcharge. Also, those who currently use tobacco but commit to participating in a smoking/tobacco-cessation program will NOT pay the surcharge.
Tobacco includes any form of tobacco products that are smoked (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes); applied to the gums, chewed or ingested (e.g., dipping or chewing leaf tobacco); and/or inhaled (e.g., snuff, vaporizers or electronic cigarettes).
The wellness program is voluntary; no one has to participate. However, all employees enrolled in University medical insurance will need to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice to avoid the $50 surcharge.
The surcharge is $50 per month. If you are paid bi-weekly, the surcharge is $23.08 (calculated as $50 x 12 months, then divided by 26 bi-weekly pay periods). Note: If you are a nine-month employee, your monthly tobacco surcharge amount may differ to account for the nine-month payroll period.
No; the tobacco surcharge will be a separate, after-tax deduction on your paycheck stub.
Employees will be asked to self-report their tobacco use status:
- Not a tobacco user
- A tobacco user who will participate in a tobacco cessation program
- A tobacco user who elects to continue use without participation in a tobacco cessation program.
It is up to you to answer honestly. Remember, the program is intended to encourage your participation in better health and it makes no-cost tobacco cessation support available to you. Significant under-reporting will lead to more stringent evaluation methods—and likely more significant financial and disciplinary risks—in future years.
Great that you want to quit! Check out our Wellness page for resources, including tobacco-cessation programs, and a free prescription for Chantix, patches or gum.
Successfully quitting can take three or four attempts. There’s no penalty for not quitting. Engaging in a recognized cessation program is the key.
Two things will happen if you don’t complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice:
- You will not receive the 2024 wellness incentive
- You will pay the tobacco surcharge, deducted from each paycheck.
Even if you don’t smoke or use tobacco, failure to complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice means you’ll pay up to $600 more each year to remain enrolled in a University-sponsored medical plan.
The tobacco surcharges will not apply to medical insurance premiums. Instead, those funds will be retained by each campus for health and wellness activities. Each campus will make a decision how to spend those dollars.
Dependents are not included in the wellness or tobacco surcharge program. The tobacco surcharge applies only to your use of tobacco products.
You can complete the Tobacco Pledge and Notice again to stop the surcharge, but it won’t take effect immediately.