HealthEquity blog

The Griswolds need an HSA

GettyImages-529790987.jpgNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a family favorite during the holidays. We can sit back and laugh at the plight of Clark Griswold as he lives out his dream of hosting a good old-fashioned Griswold Family Christmas at his home in Chicago. The shenanigans and accidents that occur in the movie fall just short of any real injuries or emergency room visits, but what is the price tag of each of these near misses if they were carried out to their real-life conclusion? How many times would the family need to seek medical care for their injuries?

We've laid out the accidents and possible treatment plans in detail to show what the out of pocket costs of healthcare might have looked like for the Griswolds. What is the true economic impact of having the whole dysfunctional family over for Christmas? Read and find out.

Possible Concussion from Car Accident

Total $81

Hypothermia when cutting down the tree

Trudging through snow up to the knees, possible hypothermia

  • Doctor visit $81

Total $81

Falling off ladder-Leg Fracture

Total $12,562

Squirrel bite

Total $3,081

Sledding Accident-Compound Fracture Lower Arm

Total $8,317

Food poisoning from the Cat Food in Jell-O

Total $6.64

Burning the Tree Down, 2nd degree burns

Total $347.57

Total $24,476.21

While actual out-of-pocket charges will vary, one thing we know is that a good old-fashioned Griswold Family Christmas is not without costs. Complete with many trips to the doctor and the emergency room, a broken leg and broken arm, a rabies shot, a dab of lidocaine and 2 Tylenol, and a partridge in a pear tree is the sweet melody sung by Clark Griswold around his Christmas tree. It suffices to say that these real healthcare costs were definitely not covered by the Jelly of the Month Club membership.

If the Griswolds had an HSA to cover these expenses they could do so with tax-free funds that had resulted in more than $7,000 in tax savings.1 We’re not going to tell you not to have a Griswold-Type Family Christmas, but now that you know the potential costs, you may think twice, or at least fund your HSA upfront.


1HSAs are never taxed at a federal income tax level when used appropriately for qualified medical expenses. Also, most states recognize HSA funds as tax-free with very few exceptions. Please consult a tax advisor regarding your state’s specific rules.

Nothing in this communication is intended as legal, tax, financial, or medical advice. Always consult a professional when making life-changing decisions.

Topics: HSA, HSA investing, retirement

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