How to Motivate Employees to Participate in HSAs

Jeff Griffin

As the cost of traditional group health insurance has gone up, high deductible health plans (HDHPs) with tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs) have become increasingly popular among employers of all sizes. But offering a HDHP is only helpful if employees, assuming they’re given a choice, then choose to adopt them. And employees who are most satisfied with HDHPs are the ones who make the most of a HDHP’s best feature, the HSA.

HSAs (which are only available with a qualifying HDHP) are primarily designed to help employees offset the high out-of-pocket costs which come along with HDHPs by allowing both employers and employees to contribute dollars into a special savings account. (Employee contributions are made on a pretax basis.) Because HSA funds roll-over and can eventually be converted into retirement savings, savvy employees have quickly learned how to take advantage of these accounts and those who can afford it are maximizing this benefit to the full extent of the contribution limits, which currently stand at $3,400 for an individual and $6,750 for a family.

That said, the average HSA participant can’t afford to max out this benefit. In fact, most HSA participants barely contribute enough to the HSA to cover their anticipated out-of-pocket medical costs for the year. The average individual contribution is just $833, far less than any deductible on a HDHP, thereby causing enrollees to suffer under the weight of this type of plan design. Some of this behavior is simply due to limited incomes, but some can be attributed to other factors, such as a lack of education on how an HSA works.

To ensure that your workforce fully embraces HDHPs with HSA plans, it behooves every employer to explore ways to motivate employees to participate in their HSA. Afterall, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, between 20 and 22 million people in the U.S. are currently enrolled in an HDHP with an HSA.

Here are just a few ideas for improving HSA participation:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employee Engagement, Plan Design, Behavioral Psychology, HSAs, Consumer Driven Healthcare

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3 Great TED Talks in The Era of Consumer-Driven Healthcare

David Rook

3 Great TED Talks in The Era of Consumer-Driven Healthcare (CDHC)

Initial indicators suggest that consumer-directed health plans are indeed succeeding on several fronts; primary care engagement is up, trips to the emergency room are down, health savings account (HSA) balances are rising, and most importantly, health care spending is falling by 5 to 14 percent. But there's a big roadblock to CDHC / CDHP adoption: rampant consumer confusion.

That was the chief point from Harry Gottlieb, during a keynote address last Wednesday at the Human Resource Executive Health and Benefits Leadership Conference.

At least two of the pitfalls with Consumer-Driven Health Care (CDHP) and Consumer-Driven Health Plans (CDHP) are the rampant growth in options and the fundamental belief that humans make intuitive, rational decisions. If only that were true!

So what can we do about it? Fortunately, there are a multitude of behavioral studies to help guide our understanding of this phenomenon, as well as lay out a roadmap for us to follow to facilitate better decision making.

Here are what we, as the JP Griffin Group, consider to be three of the most relevant, informative and actionable TED Talks on audience segmentation, behavioral economics and the cognitive limitations of humans when faced with choice.

#1) "Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce", by Malcolm Gladwell

Struggling to find the perfect medical plan and perfectly optimized employee benefits portfolio for your entire work force? This TED Talk makes the case that we are not one homogenous group of consumers, no matter what the category for consideration, be it coffee, soda, healthcare, financial services and even spaghetti sauce. The concept is presented in a highly entertaining fashion by one of the best storytellers of our day, Malcolm Gladwell, author of such best selling books as Outliers, The Tipping Point, Blink and other works that focus on the unpredictable things that people do in the course of their normal lives. Gladwell sets out to explain how a guy by the name of Howard Moskowitz reinvented tomato sauce – a challenge given to him by the Campbell Soup Company when he was asked to create the “perfect” sauce.

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Topics: Communications, Innovation, Behavioral Psychology, Consumer Driven Healthcare

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