Pension & Benefits News Employers and employees agree that HSAs are critical benefits offering, but disagree on HSA utilization
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Employers and employees agree that HSAs are critical benefits offering, but disagree on HSA utilization

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

As employees across the United States are faced with rising health care costs and living with continued health fears in the wake of COVID-19, many are looking to their employers for tools and resources to pay for care, including health savings accounts (HSAs). However, a recent survey by Further reveals a stark contrast between employers and employees when it comes to how to leverage HSAs. According to the survey, both parties believe HSAs to be a critical part of a comprehensive benefits package, but employers see them as savings tools while employees rely on them as spending tools.

According to the survey, 65 percent of employees report leveraging their HSA as a spending resource, with 23 percent stating they use their account equally for saving and spending. Yet, over 66 percent of employers associate HSAs with savings only, leaving a gap in how employers are positioning these accounts compared to how employees are leveraging them.

"Employees and employers are not speaking the same language when it comes to health savings accounts," said Matt Marek, CEO of Further. "By positioning HSAs as saver only tools, employers are missing the opportunity to help their employees meet a critical need: paying for health care costs today. As an industry, we need to change the narrative around HSAs to empower employees to be active health care consumers and provide resources on how to navigate this complex industry."

While employees cite challenges in becoming active health care consumers and shopping for care, 60 percent of employees report having a high confidence in how to fully leverage their HSAs. Comparatively, 75 percent of employers say that employees have a high understanding of their HSAs. Yet, only 51 percent of employees could correctly calculate how much they would have to pay for a hospital stay based on their deductible and copay, suggesting that both employees and employers may have a false level of confidence when it comes to leveraging HSA benefits.

"Now is the time for employers to re-evaluate the narrative behind HSAs," said Marek. "We find ourselves in a unique position where employees are paying attention to their benefits, now more than ever. We must capitalize on this momentum and shift our messaging around HSAs to empower employees to become educated, engaged healthcare consumers. Positioning HSAs as a savings tool is no longer relevant. Employees are telling us that they are now spending tools. By updating how we position the HSA, and adding education tools, employees will be better equipped to navigate the healthcare industry and find the confidence to do so along the way."


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