From HSA to 401(k) contribution limits, 11 numbers to know for 2019

Do you offer HSAs, FSAs or 401(k)s to your employees? There are many important numbers companies and employees need to know regarding HSAs, FSAs and 401(k)s. Read this blog post to learn more.

There are a slew of important figures companies and employees need to know regarding health savings accounts, 401(k)s and flexible spending accounts. While the IRS announced HSA changes in May, the agency only recently announced annual changes to FSAs and 401(k)s. From contribution limits to out-of-pocket amounts, here are the figures employers need to know — all of which take effect in January.

$19,000: 401(k) pre-tax contribution limits

The IRS in November said it is increasing the pre-tax contribution limits for employees who participate in a 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans to $19,000 from $18,500. That limit also applies to the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan.

$6,000: 401(k) catch-up contribution limit

For participants ages 50 and over, the additional 401(k) catch-up contribution limit, which is set by law, will stay at $6,000 for 2019.

$6,000: IRA contribution limits

IRA contribution limits are being raised to $6,000 from $5,500 — the first time the IRS has increased the limits since 2013. The catch-up contribution limit for people 50 and over will still be $1,000.

$3,500: Annual HSA contribution limit for individuals

The 2019 annual health savings account contribution limit for individuals with single medical coverage is $3,500, an increase of $50 from 2018.

$7,000: HSA contribution limit for family coverage

For HSAs linked to family coverage, the 2019 contribution limit will rise by $100, to $7,000, above the family cap set for 2018.

$1,350: HDHP minimum deductible for individual

The minimum deductible for a qualifying high-deductible health plan remains unchanged for 2019: $1,350 for individual coverage.

$2,700: HDHP minimum deductible for family

The minimum deductible for a qualifying high-deductible health plan remains at $2,700 for family coverage.

$6,750: HDHP maximum out-of-pocket amounts (individual)

Deductibles, copayments and other amounts that do not include premiums will have a maximum limit of $6,750 for individual coverage next year, up $100 from 2018.

$13,500: HDHP maximum out-of-pocket amounts (family)

Deductibles, copayments and other amounts that do not include premiums will have a maximum limit of $13,500 for family coverage, up $200 from 2018.

$1,000: HSA catch-up contributions

Individuals 55 years or older can contribute an extra $1,000 to their health savings account in 2019. The amount remains unchanged from 2018.

$2,700: FSA contribution limit

The health flexible spending account contribution limit for 2019 is $2,700 — an increase of $50 over the 2018 limit. The increase also applies to limited-purpose FSAs that are restricted to dental and vision care services, which can be used in tandem with health savings accounts.

SOURCE: Mayer, K. (6 December 2018) "From HSA to 401(k) contribution limits, 11 numbers to know for 2019" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

IRS bumps up 401(k) contribution limit for 2019

Do you offer a retirement plan to your employees? The IRS recently raised the annual contribution cap for 401(k) and other retirement plans. Continue reading to find out what the new contribution caps are.

Participants in 401(k) and other defined contribution retirement accounts will see their annual contribution cap raised from $18,500 to $19,000 in 2019, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The catch-up contribution limit on defined contribution plans remains unchanged at $6,000.

Savers with IRAs will see the annual contribution cap raised from $5,500 to $6,000 — the first time the cap on IRA deferrals has been raised since 2013. The annual catch-up contribution for savers age 50 and over will remain at $1,000.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) increases will also be applied to the deduction phase-out scale for IRA owners who are also covered by a workplace retirement plan:

  • for single filers the scale will be $64,000 to $74,000, up $1,000
  • for joint filers where the spouse contributing to an IRA is also covered by a workplace plan, the phase-out slot increase to $103,000 to $123,000
  • for an IRA contributor whose spouse is covered by a plan, the income phase-out is $193,000 to $2003,000

Single contributors to Roth IRAs will see the income phase-out range increase to $122,000 to $137,000, up $2,000 from last year. For married couples filing jointly the range will increase to $193,000 to $203,000, up $4,000 from last year.

More low and moderate-income families may be able to claim the Saver’s Credit on their tax returns for contributions to retirement savings plans. The threshold increases $1,000 for married couples, to $64,000; $48,000 for head of households, up $750; and $32,000 for singles and single filers, up $500 from last year.

The deferred compensation limit in defined contribution plans for pre-tax and after-tax dollars will increase $1,000, to $56,000. And the maximum defined benefit annual pension will increase $5,000, to $225,000.

SOURCE: Thornton, N. (1 November 2018) "IRS bumps up 401(k) contribution limit for 2019" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

Bill Would Allow Medicare-Eligible Retirees to Keep HSA Contributions

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Health savings accounts are surging in popularity — and that can lead to some complications for older workers who enroll in Medicare.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are offered to workers enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans. The accounts are used primarily to meet deductible costs; employers often contribute and workers can make pretax contributions up to $3,350 for individuals, and $5,640 for families; the dollars can be invested and later spent tax-free to meet healthcare expenses.

Twenty-four percent of U.S. workers were enrolled in high-deductible health plans last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation - and 15% of them were in plans coupled with an HSA. That compares with 6% using HSA-linked plans as recently as 2010. Assets in HSA accounts rose 25% last year, and the number of accounts rose 22%, according to a report by Devenir, an HSA investment adviser and consulting firm.

But as more employees work past traditional retirement age, some sticky issues arise for HSA account holders tied to enrollment in Medicare. The key issue: HSAs can only be used alongside qualified high-deductible health insurance plans. The minimum deductible allowed for HSA-qualified accounts this year is $1,300 for individual coverage ($2,600 for family coverage). Medicare is not considered a high-deductible plan, although the Part A deductible this year is $1,288 (for Part B, it is $166).

That means that if a worker - or a spouse covered on the employer's plan - signs up for Medicare coverage, the worker must stop contributing to the HSA, although withdrawals can continue.

The normal enrollment age for Medicare is 65, but people who are still working at that point often stay on the health plans of their employers (more on that below). In certain situations, the worker or a retired spouse might enroll for some Medicare benefits. Moreover, if the worker or spouse claims Social Security, that can trigger an automatic enrollment in Medicare Part A and B.

That would require the worker to stop contributing to the HSA - and the contributions actually would need to stop six months before that Social Security claim occurs. That is because Medicare Part A is retroactive for up to six months, assuming the enrollee was eligible for coverage during those months. Failing to do that can lead to a tax penalty.

"The Medicare problem is a basic flaw in the way HSAs are designed," said Jody Dietel, chief compliance officer of WageWorks Inc, a provider of HSA and other consumer-directed benefit plans to employers.

Recognizing the problem, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Erik Paulsen proposed legislation last month that would allow HSA-eligible seniors enrolled in Medicare Part A (only) to continue to contribute to their HSAs.

The HSA complication is bound to arise more often as the huge baby boom generation retires, and as high-deductible insurance linked to HSA accounts continues to gain popularity among employers. High-deductible plans come with lower premiums - the average premium for individual coverage in a high-deductible health plan coupled with a savings option last year was $5,567 (the employee share was $868), KFF reports. By contrast, the comparable average premium for a preferred provider organization was $6,575 (with workers contributing $1,145).

Some experts also pitch HSAs as a tax-advantaged way to save to meet healthcare costs in retirement - although the HSA's main purpose is to help people meet current-year deductible costs, and employers often make an annual contribution for that purpose.

So far, there is not much evidence that large accumulations are building in the accounts. The average account total balance last year was $14,035, according to Devenir. The limits on contributions are one reason for that.

Deciding to delay a Medicare enrollment depends on your individual circumstances.

If you work for an employer with fewer than 20 workers, Medicare usually is the primary insurer at age 65, so failing to sign up would mean losing much of your coverage - hardly worth the tax advantage of continued HSA contributions. If you work for a larger employer, Medicare coverage is secondary, so a delayed Medicare filing is more feasible - so long as you or a spouse are not enrolled in Social Security. (Also make sure that the account in question is an HSA and not a Health Reimbursement Account - the latter is not a savings account and does not bring the Medicare enrollment problem into play.)

"We usually advise people to talk it over with a tax expert - it's more of a tax issue than a health insurance question," said Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for education and federal policy at the Medicare Rights Center, a nonprofit advocacy and consumer rights group.


Companies are seeking alternate health coverage offerings in the face of a shaky economy and the potential impact of the health care reform law, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates. The study found that employers are considering such options as defined contributions, vouchers and exchange purchasing in an effort to control spiraling health care costs. Employers, however, seem committed overall to continuing to offer health benefits. The study found that only 13 percent of fully insured employers and 14 percent of self-insured companies said they probably or definitely will not offer employer-sponsored benefits in the future.