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Improved Cost Control with HSAs, Surveys Show

By SHRM Online staff  9/28/2009
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Most U.S. employers and plan participants using health savings accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans spend less and are more engaged in managing health benefits, recent surveys of employers and employees by Buck Consultants show.

The tax-favored health care savings accounts, linked to high-deductible health plans, are designed to help individuals pay for current qualified health care expenses and save for future medical and retiree health care needs.

“With the vigorous debate over health care reform, and more specifically health insurance reform, the survey results indicate that employers and account holders more effectively control costs and are satisfied with their coverage by using HSAs,” says Tom Hricik, national director, ACS|HSA Solution, an administrator of HSA accounts. Buck Consultants is an independent subsidiary of ACS. “The survey results also indicate that HSAs are being used by account holders as an important vehicle to save for future medical expenses,” Hricik says.

The surveys, completed in the spring of 2009, examined employer and account holder selection and use of HSAs as well as health plan participation, behaviors related to plan usage, and satisfaction with product features. Significant findings are highlighted below.

Among plan participants who hold HSAs:

84 percent said their HSA-qualified plans are affordable.

81 percent said the ability to personally control health care costs is an important factor that caused them to select an HSA.

72 percent said they pay the same or less than with a traditional type of health plan.

After moving to an HSA, more than half of account holders said they more closely monitor their health care costs, and specifically:

48 percent read their medical bills more closely than when they did not have an HSA.

46 percent have a better understanding of where their money goes.

40 percent more closely evaluate costs before electing medical services.

Among employers offering HSAs for more than three years:

96 percent said that HSAs allow the company to continue offering group-sponsored health insurance.

86 percent indicated that plan costs were the same or less than the previous year.

Related Articles

U.S. Health Care Inflation to Far Outpace Salary Increases in 2010, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, September 2009

Rebalancing Health Costs, HR Magazine, September 2009

CDHPs Increasingly Favored Over HMOs, HR News, August 2009

More Turn to Aggressive Health Cost Strategies, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, July 2009

Strategically Controlling Health Costs with High-Deductible Plans, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, June 2009

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