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HSA savers are socking it away in 401(k) plans, too

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People who use health savings accounts (HSA) have larger-than-average amounts in their 401(k) plans, Fidelity Investments says.

The firm chalks it up to awareness of tax-advantaged savings; people who are hip to how one type of plan works will embrace a similar strategy elsewhere in their financial habits. Analyzing year-end 2010 data from its own plans, Fidelity said that 401(k) participants who also had an HSA accrued more than twice as much as the average retirement account participant. At the end of 2010, Fidelity’s average 401(k) balance was $71,500; but for those participants also contributing to an HSA, the average balance was 138 percent larger: $170,500.

The trend persists across all income groups, Fidelity said. The average 401(k) balance for someone earning $20,000 to $40,000 per year was $19,000. But for someone who also contributed to an HSA, the average in the retirement plan jumped 59 percent, to $30,000. For savers earning $100,000 to $150,000, the average 401(k) balance was $159,000—64 percent less than the average of $260,000 from someone in that income range who also was contributing to an HSA.

Among the tax benefits of an HSA: contributions are tax-deductible, investment gains are tax-deferred, and account withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses. Employers often pair them with high-deductible health insurance plans.

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