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Cancer Health Savings Account

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I am a long-term cancer survivor with a Health Savings Account (HSA). I struggle with a host of long-term side effects.

My wife and I spend a lot of money on health expenses each year. Some of these health care expenses are covered by our health insurance and some are not. An example of health expenses that are not covered my our health insurance is:

  • My wife’s recent broken ankle- some expenses covered, some not
  • My weekly acupuncture treatments- none
  • My nutritional supplementation- none
  • Our dental expenses- none

Even if my cancer is in complete remission, I undergo regular diagnostic testing simply to make sure that I remain in CR and do not get a chemotherapy-related secondary cancer.

When I underwent conventional cancer therapies I incurred thousands of dollars in health expenses- some covered, some not.

My point is, no matter how wonderful your health insurance is, if you are diagnosed with cancer, you will incur thousands of dollars of health expenses- financial toxicity of cancer is clearly explained in the article linked and excerpted below.

Our health saving account is one of the keys to managing our long-term financial lives.

What are the benefits of a health savings account to a cancer survivor on Medicare?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) can offer several benefits to a cancer patient on Medicare:

  1. Tax Advantages: Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, meaning the money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. Additionally, withdrawals for qualified medical expenses, including cancer treatments, are tax-free.
  2. Funds Roll Over: Unlike Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), HSA funds roll over from year to year. This allows patients to accumulate savings over time and use them for future medical expenses.
  3. Long-Term Savings: Cancer treatment often involves ongoing medical costs. An HSA provides a way to save for these expenses over the long term, helping patients manage their healthcare costs effectively.
  4. Flexible Spending: HSA funds can be used for a variety of qualified medical expenses, including deductibles, copayments, prescription medications, and certain over-the-counter items. This flexibility allows cancer patients to use the funds for various aspects of their treatment.
  5. Control Over Healthcare Decisions: With an HSA, individuals have more control over their healthcare decisions. They can choose how to spend their HSA funds on treatments and services that best meet their needs.
  6. Portability: HSAs are portable, meaning that the account stays with the individual even if they change jobs or retire. This can be especially beneficial for cancer patients who may experience changes in employment status.

The money we put in the HSA annually is tax-deductible up to legal limits. Over the years we have manage to build a reasonable amount along with our other forms of savings- IRA, etc.

If you are a cancer patient or survivor, I encourage you to open an HSA and save as much as you can annually.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Financial Toxicity (Financial Distress) and Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version

“General Information About Financial Toxicity (Financial Distress) and Cancer Treatment


  • Financial toxicity describes problems a patient has related to the cost of medical care.
  • Several studies show that people with cancer and survivors are more likely to have financial toxicity than are people without cancer.
  • The level of financial toxicity you may have will depend on several factors in your household.
  • Cancer treatment can affect your ability to work and pay your bills.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

“HSAs are portable and offer tax advantages, but they have some drawbacks-

A health savings account (HSA) is essentially a personal savings account that can be used only for medical expenses. To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). HSAs have tax advantages that result in many people using them as retirement plans, alongside their 401(k) or IRA accounts.

Contributions to an HSA are made with pretax dollars. This means that you won’t pay income tax on the money that you put directly into your HSA, and you’ll save on income taxes for the year…

On the other hand, the money that you put into your HSA is expensive to access once it’s already in the account if it is not used properly. You’ll owe income taxes plus a 20% penalty if you withdraw funds from your HSA for non-qualified expenses before you turn age 65…

Several studies show that people with cancer and survivors are more likely to have financial toxicity than are people without cancer.

Cancer is one of the most expensive medical conditions to treat in the United States. People with cancer may receive multiple types of treatments, including radiation therapy and systemic treatment, and may be hospitalized. People with cancer who have health insurance are paying higher premiums than in the past. They are also paying more for copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance.

Compared to 10 years ago, patients receive more expensive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other new types of treatments. Copayments for prescription drugs covered by health insurance may be more for higher priced drugs or brand name drugs (versus generic drugs) and may increase over time. These copayments and coinsurance for drugs may cause financial toxicity even for people with cancer who have health insurance.

Cancer survivors may have financial problems many years after they are diagnosed. This is because they may be paying for ongoing cancer treatment or care for late effects from their treatment.




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