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U.S. Employers and Employees Disagree on HSA Utilization

Consumers value HSAs to pay for care, not to invest

Eagan, Minn. – (August 5, 2020) – 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 today, including health savings accounts (HSA). However, in a recent survey, Further, a national health savings administrator, found agreement that a comprehensive benefits package is critical to both employers and employees but notably there were sharp contrasts where employers and employees starkly diverge on how to leverage HSAs – with employers positioning them as savings tools, while employees rely on them as spending tools.

Among the survey findings:

Today, employees depend on employers to provide competitive benefits packages that meet their health care needs. In fact, 70% of consumers said comprehensive benefits are the most important factor, or a very important factor, when accepting a job.1 Similarly, employers place high value on HSAs as an employee recruitment and retention tool, with 57% and 50%,2 respectively, citing these as key objectives for offering an HSA.

However, when asked how HSAs are primarily utilized – as a spending or saving tool – employees and employers disagree. 65% of consumers report leveraging their HSA as a spending resource, with 23% stating they use their account equally for saving and spending1. Yet, over 66% of employers associate HSAs with savings only,2 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% of employees report having a high confidence in how to fully leverage their HSAs. Comparatively, 75% of employers say that employees have a high understanding of their HSAs. Yet, only 51% of consumers could correctly calculate how much they would have to pay for a hospital stay based on their deductible and copay,3 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.”

For more information about the survey and results, visit: learn.hellofurther.com/perceptiongap.

 

1https://learn.hellofurther.com/perceptiongap

2https://hellofurther.com/blog/growing-role-health-spending-savings-accounts-benefits-portfolio/

3https://www.kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/assessing-americans-familiarity-with-health-insurance-terms-and-concepts/