Along with a choice of health insurance plans, your employer might offer you a tax-advantaged financial account for out-of-pocket health care expenses.

Health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and flexible spending accounts are all designed to ease your financial burden, but each works a little differently.

Besides doing your homework to choose the right medical insurance plan, understand how these financial arrangements operate.

Flexible spending account (FSA)

A health care flexible spending account lets you set aside pretax dollars to pay for medical expenses, including deductibles, copays and IRS-eligible medical services not covered by your health insurance plan. Each year, you decide how much money to put in the account through payroll deductions. The account is designed on a use-it-or-lose it basis. If you don't spend all the cash by the end of the year, the money goes to your employer.

Health savings account (HSA)

Created by a federal law passed in 2003, health savings accounts are designed for people with high-deductible health insurance plans. To qualify for an HSA this year, your health plan must have an annual deductible of at least $1,200 for individual coverage and $2,400 for family coverage. It must also have a maximum limit on the medical expenses you pay out of pocket, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance. This year, the limit is $5,950 for an individual and $11,900 for family coverage.

You can save up to $3,100 for yourself or $6,250 for a family this year in an HSA, and an additional $1,000 if you're 55 or older. Although you own the account, your employer can also make contributions to it. Unlike a flexible spending account, the money in an HSA rolls over from one year to the next, and it earns interest. The account is also portable. You still own it if you change jobs.

You can get an HSA with an employer-sponsored health plan or with a plan you purchase yourself. Ask about HSAs when you get health insurance quotes for high-deductible plans.

Health reimbursement arrangement or account (HRA)

Only the employer, which owns the account, can contribute to a health reimbursement arrangement. The HRA reimburses you tax-free for qualified medical expenses up to a certain limit each year set by the employer. Money in an HRA can be carried over to the next year.

No matter how good your health insurance plan is, it won't cover everything. These accounts can help you budget for health care and save you money by reducing taxes. Learn about the financial arrangements offered to maximize your employee benefits.