Monday, January 15, 2007

Health Savings Account accounts

I spent much of today trying to find an account for our health savings account. Some of these places are charging ridiculous fees. I don't really see that it is so different from a bank account. You make contributions and withdrawls. The custodian is not required to make sure that your withdrawls are for valid medical expenses, that's up to you. So at most they have a little reporting paperwork to do, and surely that is computerised.

And yet some of them want to charge anywhere from $25 to $50 to set the account up. Then they take your money and pay you a paltry rate of interest, all the while charging an account maintenance fee of anywhere from $3 to $5 per month. Some of them let you make investments in mutual funds. There's another minefield to sort through. Some offer only front-end load funds. Some offer only their own funds. Some make you keep a minimum balance of $2000 to $3000 in their low-interest bank account first. I finally found one that sounded not too bad - $20 to set up, $39 to maintain and I can invest in a wide range of Vanguard mutual funds. Then we get to the small print. They charge 0.0009 times the quartely balance every quarter as another fee, up to a maximum of $18 per quarter or another $72 per year. What for? Why does it cost this to hold a mutual fund with them, when I can hold the same fund with Vanguard without the fee? What am I getting for this?

Back to square one and another wasted day.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having a health savings account - I like being in charge - but we need some more competition out there to bring the rates down and take the mystery out of the thing.

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