Raising Awareness to the Perks of an HSA and HDHP

September 10, 2020

With open enrollment on the horizon for most Americans, it’s a good time to raise awareness of the potential of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). They are a dynamic duo in helping Americans prepare for medical expenses, both in the present day and all the way into retirement. Yet many participants are confused about some of the basic traits of an HSA, such as whether:

  • They are use-or-lose accounts (they’re not).

  • They are only spending accounts (they’re savings accounts, too). 

This signals a huge opportunity to alert more Americans to the unique ways an HSA can benefit them at every life stage. In fact, two WEXers are taking on this topic this month. And on the Modern Healthcare website, John Sweeney, who is our director of business development within the public sector, is participating in a Q&A that digs into why Americans shouldn’t participate in an HDHP unless a HSA benefit is part of the package. Read an excerpt below!

The value of HSAs and HDHPs

What’s preventing people from opening an HSA?

JS: It’s a combination of two things: First, although the plans themselves may have a high deductible, there’s often some element of the plan that disqualifies it from being HSA eligible, so careful attention has to be paid to which accounts can be coupled with an HSA. 

Secondly, there aren’t enough people who think of an HSA as a lifetime benefit that can be taken with them from job to job and used to pay for healthcare in retirement. Instead, it’s more often understood as a plan-year decision. But, just like you wouldn’t want your 401(k) one year but not the next, we have to get people to start thinking like that about HSAs, too.

What’s the best way to communicate the value of HSAs?

JS: It’s very helpful to view healthcare consumers as being in one of several different life stages and/or on different consumer pathways when it comes to their HSA. That way you’re better able to address their individual needs. You have to consider that the behaviors of a 26-year-old who is just getting off their parents’ health insurance plan will be very different from someone over the age of 65 who is staring down retirement. 

Read the rest of Modern Healthcare’s Q&A with John Sweeney here

There’s been a recent legislative push to decouple HSAs from HDHPs. To learn more about it, listen to our most recent episode of our Benefits Buzz podcast.

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