Last week, ConnectYourCare collaborated with Visa and Workforce Magazine to deliver the HSA to Z webinar, which presented data gathered in a national online survey of 1,000 people,* and showcased how individuals perceive and use health savings accounts (HSAs).
Representing Visa, Senior Account Executive for Health care and Insurance Products, Jim Meduna, presented data insights about the current state of HSA ownership and understanding among HSA owners and non-owners. From ConnectYourCare, Vice President of Health Savings Account Solutions, Jill Kelly, and Senior Vice President, Nicole Williams, shared pro tips on ways to boost adoption rates for eligible employees and clients.
If you didn’t catch the HSA to Z webinar live stream or would like a summary, check out the recap below to give you the main takeaways from the thought-provoking discussion!
HSA Awareness and Knowledge
Of the 28% of eligible employees surveyed (those who have a high-deductible health plan), only 17% have opened an HSA. This low rate of adoption could relate to lack of awareness about HSAs, considering only half of those surveyed reported that their employer offered the option to enroll. This means that employers need to do a better job of educating employees about the key benefits of an HSA and how it works.
Among those who have an HSA, 44% say they know a little or nothing about what their HSA is and how to use it, while 84% of non-users say they know little or nothing about HSAs. There are also major knowledge gaps among users and non-users related to critical aspects of the HSA, including eligibility, qualified HSA spending, contribution limits, whether funds roll over year to year, and if the account goes with them when they change jobs.
Despite the lack of awareness among employees, there is a silver lining. Almost all HSA owners say they would like to learn more about how the savings account works, and 36% would like to learn this information directly from their employer. Non-owners would also like to learn more and say they’d consider opening an HSA account if they know more about how it will save them money, if they qualify, how easy it is to use, if it offers tax savings, and if funds roll over year to year.
Contribution, Usage, and Benefits
For HSA owners and non-owners alike, the financial benefits matter most. When asked what is most important to them, about 80% of the employees surveyed reported that their top three areas of concern regarding the HSA are:
HSA owners will spread the word about the financial benefits of an HSA, especially about having tax-free money to pay for health care expenses (including alternative medicine). They will also tell others about the flexibility to roll over unused HSA funds each year, that the HSA travels with you throughout your career, and that you can earn interest on and invest HSA funds. In addition to these financial benefits, HSA owners say that having an HSA makes them feel in control, secure, and confident about their health care spending and savings.
Card Usage and Perception
For HSA owners, having a payment card contributes to their satisfaction with the account and inspires them to recommend that others open an HSA as well. They like that the debit card is easy to use, makes payments fast and safe, is widely accepted, is dedicated to health care costs, allows them to track expenses, and gives them control over their medical spending. The HSA payment card makes users feel more in control, more secure, and more confident about their health care expenses and budgeting.
Pro Tips: Employer and Broker Action Plans to Increase HSA Adoption
Throughout the webinar, Nicole and Jill offered tips for employers and brokers to encourage individuals to take advantage of the benefits provided by a health savings account. These are some of the pro tips they shared:
Employers who focus on educating employees about benefits all year round see a 23% to 29% increase in HSA enrollment, on average. Every month there should be special messaging about HSAs, notifying employees that they can establish an HSA anytime, not just during open enrollment. (Need a hand with communications? Take advantage of our free resources like HSA Academy and our HSAs for Dummies® eBook).
Motivate employees to open an HSA by offering a larger employer contribution upfront. You can scale by the amount you contribute later, but the employees surveyed shared that the contribution from their employer incentivized them to open an account.
Vary the messaging medium to target a wide range of potential or current HSA owners, from millennials early in their careers to baby boomers gearing up for retirement. While some will respond best to text messages, others prefer email communication.
Be sure to mention how an HSA is both a saving and spending account that is essentially a “coupon” for health care expenses. Since it is tax-free money, you could present HSA funds like using a 15% to 25% discount (depending on the employee tax bracket) coupon for copays, medications, and alternative treatments.
Emphasize how much people should be saving for health care in retirement AND that the HSA will stay with them throughout their career and after they stop working.
Move away from using industry jargon regarding the HSA like “portability,” “deductible,” “HDHP,” and even “benefits.” In fact, when talking about the HSA with employees, it’s better to call it a health savings account rather than using the acronym! People get the HSA confused with HRA, FSA, and even HDHP, so using the complete name is a simple way to communicate what this product offers.