- Employees and employers are not aligned on how to best use HSAs, according to the Aug. 5 findings of Further survey. The health benefits administrator concluded that employers are positioning HSAs as savings tools, while employees see them as spending tools.
- According to the study, 65% of consumers report using their HSA as a spending resource, with 23% stating they use their account equally for saving and spending. However, more than two-thirds of employers associate HSAs with savings only, meaning there is likely a disconnect in how these benefits are communicated to employees.
- "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."
HSAs were a target of change in 2017 as a new administration and Congress sought to revamp healthcare, including an increase to the amount that employers could match on health spending accounts. But efforts to pass a new healthcare bill ultimately failed.
In 2018, five independent studies found that enrollment in HSA-eligible health plans is in decline, according to the Employment Benefits Research Institute, citing its own study and four additional ones. Many advocate for changes in how these HSAs are administered and communicated to drive usage, though the pandemic has forced some adjustments to these plans, including coverage for telehealth and coronavirus testing and the CARES Act, which "broadened HSA reimbursements in a number of ways," according to reporting from Next Avenue.
In fact, a recent Fidelity study found that 1 in 4 employers made changes to health benefit plans amid the pandemic, and that employee sentiment among those who leverage HSAs is positive: "92% of employees know whether or not an HSA is offered, but many choose not to opt for a High Deductible Health Plan, which is a requirement to contribute to an HSA. Yet, when the HSA is utilized, 89% report that it has a positive impact on their lives."