If you’re looking into Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), you’ve likely come across Lively as an option. I chose Lively for my own HSA, and in this review, I’ll review the key features, fees and investment choices.
Lively's fee-free HSA, array of low-cost investment options, and top-notch tech make it a top pick among HSA providers.
- A fee-free health savings account.
- Great (commission-free) short-term and long-term investment options through Schwab.
- Easy sign-up and very user friendly app. Features include automated contributions, ability to add expenses, store receipts and more.
- For those wanting to invest, two separate accounts (one with Lively and one with Schwab) must be maintained.
- Optional done-for-you portfolios have a .5% fee
Lively HSA Overview
Lively is a fee-free HSA provider. Most HSA providers are banks, but Lively is a software company, which gives it some distinct advantages over its competitors (as we’ll discuss below).
Lively doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee, an account opening fee, or an account closing fee. And there’s no minimum balance necessary to open an account.
The money you contribute can either be held in cash in an FDIC-insured bank account (up to $250,000) or invested.
One of the latest additions to Lively’s offerings is the “HSA Boost,” a high-yield savings feature designed to maximize your HSA returns. Currently, this feature is available to a limited group of eligible accounts and isn’t automatically given.
When activated, HSA Boost moves your funds into a high-yield account, offering you a more lucrative way to grow your savings. While the feature is limited in its availability, Lively plans to roll it out to a broader audience in the near future.
On the long-term investment side, Lively works with two different investment providers:
- Schwab Health Savings Brokerage Account. You can invest through a self-directed brokerage account with Schwab. With this option, you’re getting full control of your investments, similar to how you would invest in a taxable brokerage.
- HSA Guided Portfolio through Deniver. For a .5% annual investment fee, you can choose from a portfolio of mutual funds that align with your risk tolerance.
Lively Key Facts
|Minimum cash balance:||$0|
|Minimum investment balance:||$0|
|Investment options:||Invest through TD Ameritrade and Devenir.|
|Commission-free ETFs available:||Yes.|
|Portfolio management fee:||0% for TD Ameritrade, and .5% to access the HSA Guided Portfolio by Devenir.|
|Interest rate:||.01% earned on your HSA dollars.|
How It Works: Using Your Lively HSA for Medical Expenses
Note that the term “qualified medical expenses” can be tricky. It’s pretty easy to understand that things like copays and prescriptions fall under the term, but what about health-related items you buy from a pharmacy? Are those considered qualified medical expenses?
Lively has a useful tool to help you answer this question. When you need to make a purchase, you can quickly access a search engine that will tell you whether or not a given item can be purchased with your HSA debit card.
Members can also access HSA Store, an online shop that offers a curated selection of HSA-compliant items, right from their Lively dashboard. You might be surprised to find that items like sunscreen, saline nasal mist, digital thermometers and lots more qualify.
Lively HSA Investment Options
Paying for your sunblock with tax-free money is great, but if you really want to put your HSA dollars to work for you, you need to invest them.
Lively HSA makes that process easy, enabling members to invest their HSA contributions through either Schawb or an HSA Guided Portfolio through Deniver.
While many other HSAs require a minimum balance before you can start investing (sometimes as much as $2,000), Lively does not.
You can also use the money in your Lively HSA to invest in more than 300 commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and more than 13,000 mutual funds (of which 2,000+ don’t charge a transaction fee).
The HSA Guided Portfolio, which is offered through Deniver, is customized to your risk tolerance and automatically rebalances over time. While this is a nice feature for very hands-off investors, it comes with a 0.5% annual investment fee.
Considering the fact that many of the funds available through the HSA Guided Portfolio can also be purchased through Schwab, I would personally just invest through the latter.
Lively HSA Alternatives
Until Lively came along in 2016, Fidelity’s HSA offering topped most lists of the best HSA providers. As you can see, there’s a lot to like about Fidelity.
Here’s how the two compare:
Overall, they both stand out with their low fees. Also, both offer the ability to invest on their own through a brokerage account.
Where they differ slightly is in their managed portfolios.
For the Fidelity Go HSA, the fees are as follows:
- Under $10,000: $0.
- $10,000 – $49,999: $3 per month.
- $50,000 and above: 0.35% per year.
In comparison, the fees for Lively’s customized portfolios are a bit higher at .5%.
Overall, it’s a very close race between the two. We give Lively a slight edge for its top-notch tech, while Fidelity has lower-cost managed options.
Using a Lively HSA
Signing up for Lively is easy and only takes about five minutes via their app.
The app allows you to see your HSA fund balance, review your recent transactions, automate your contributions, and view and monitor your investments.
If you’re standing in the pharmacy and not sure whether a particular product is HSA-eligible, you can find out on the spot by using the in-app search engine.
You can also use the app to upload and store receipts related to your healthcare spending — which you need to keep for tax purposes — rather than trying to indefinitely hold onto a bunch of paper receipts.
Many banks are still using outdated technology, and it often shows when you’re using one of their HSAs. Conversely, Lively has created a cutting edge, modern HSA platform that users will love.
Is Lively HSA Right for You?
Many people are concerned about outliving their money, and for good reason. While it makes sense to think about the relative benefits of a Roth and traditional IRA, and to look for ways to improve your 410(k), you should consider whether using an HSA as another tool for tax-advantaged retirement investing makes sense in your particular situation.
Keep in mind that if you’ve maxed out your other retirement accounts, an HSA gives you an extra $3,850 to $7,750 to invest each year in a tax-advantaged account.
That’s why I’m a big proponent of HSAs in general. Healthcare expenses are so high that it only makes sense to take advantage of anything that will help reduce those costs and provide a tax benefit.
I’m a big fan of Lively HSA in particular, whether you want to invest your HSA money or not. If the idea of investing all of your dedicated healthcare funds is a little too risky for you, you can always opt to invest a portion of the money and keep the rest in cash inside your account.
Many other HSA administrators charge fees. Usually, those fees are assessed either monthly or yearly. Lively doesn’t. Add to that their partnership with Schwab and a terrific mobile app that facilitates ease of use, and Lively HSA is a winner for anyone who wants to get the most out of their HSA plan.