Pension & Benefits News COVID-19 increases health care cost anxiety
Thursday, January 7, 2021

COVID-19 increases health care cost anxiety

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

Nearly half of full-time workers had to make financial sacrifices in the past six months due to health care costs, according to research from HealthEquity. The survey of more than 1,100 full-time workers with employment-based health care coverage found that the strain on workers with children at home is even greater—63 percent of these respondents said they have gone without health care or cut spending in other areas to afford health care during the pandemic.

According to the survey, 46 percent of full-time employees have had to make tradeoffs between health care and other expenses in the last six months. That represents 10 percent of employees who say they have gone without health care services due to cost, another 10 percent who say they have cut their spending in other areas to afford health care costs, and 26 percent who say they have done both.

HSAs. HealthEquity found that roughly a third of those surveyed said they participate in an HSA through their employer. The survey noted that 43 percent of employees with children chose to participate in their employer’s HSA benefit compared with just 31 percent of employees without children. In addition, they are also twice as likely to put extra funds toward their HSA than employees without children.

For employees with HSAs, price shopping is becoming more common. Sixty-five percent of workers with HSAs said they usually compare prices before selecting a health care provider, compared to 55 percent of respondents who do not participate in an HSA.

HSA participants are also more confident about their financial planning. Though nearly half of survey respondents (48 percent) say they are uncertain about the amount of money needed to cover health care costs in retirement, HSA participants are more self-assured—63 percent of them say they have a good idea of how much money they’ll need.

HealthEquity noted that organizations should bolster their education efforts with regard to HSAs. Despite being designed as a savings tool, HSAs are not often seen or used that way. Just 30 percent of survey respondents with an HSA said they view their account primarily as a tool to save for future health care expenses. Half instead say they use their account primarily to pay for current-year health expenses, and 20 percent say they use it both to save and spend.


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