New Surveys Reveal Consumers Taking Charge of their Healthcare Costs with Health Savings Accounts (back)
According to research from Xerox companies ACS and Buck Consultants, both employers and account holders find cost saving benefits in HSAs
Employers and consumers alike are adopting Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as a viable way to manage their health care costs without compromising care, according to two national surveys released today.
“This year’s survey results reveal an interesting phenomenon — HSAs are doing more than just saving consumers and employers money. They are prompting a shift in behavior that is helping employees make better decisions about their own health care”
The “2011 Employer and Account Holder Surveys,” commissioned by ACS, A Xerox Company (NYSE: XRX), and conducted by Buck Consultants, show a majority of small employers (77 percent) believe that High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with an HSA are key in controlling health care costs. Additionally, more than half (56 percent) of account holders have found that their HSA-qualified plan provides an affordable health care option.
“This year’s survey results reveal an interesting phenomenon — HSAs are doing more than just saving consumers and employers money. They are prompting a shift in behavior that is helping employees make better decisions about their own health care,” said Tom Hricik, principal, The ACS | HSA Solution.
The surveys show that HSAs put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing their health services and care. Three-quarters of respondents say the ability personally to control their own health costs is an “extremely” or “very” important benefit of HSAs. Not only are account holders setting aside more money than before they had an HSA to cover potential medical costs (54 percent), but they are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices (18 percent), researching preventive care programs (18 percent), shopping for lower priced prescription drugs (28 percent), and planning health care better throughout the year (31 percent). Individuals perceive that they consume medical services at approximately the same rate but are shopping for care more than before.
Employers and employees are benefiting from more educated, responsible health and wellness decisions, but the benefits don’t end there. HDHPs are less costly to employers for both individual and family coverage. Employers report that the cost of providing HSA-qualified plans is less than the cost of providing a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). The average direct cost to provide an HDHP/HSA is $5,469 for individual coverage and $9,909 for family coverage. In comparison, the average PPO cost is $7,158 for individuals and $10,691 for family.
These positive trends in cost savings and account holder behavior make it easier for employers to continue offering competitive healthcare options for employees, said Hricik.
He said surveyed employers are extremely committed to offering employer-sponsored health insurance for the foreseeable future, and are equally committed to retain their HSA-qualified plans. Only 6 percent stated that they are at least very likely to discontinue offering the HSA-qualified plan in the future. And, only 7 percent of employers stated that they would be at least very likely to move employees to future health care exchanges.
Other significant findings include:
2011 Employer Survey:
The average employer that implemented an HDHP and HSA program has 49 percent of eligible employees enrolled in the HDHP.
Sixty-nine percent of employer respondents contributed to their employees’ HSA accounts.
Employers’ contributions to HSAs average $1,000 for individual coverage and $1,500 for family coverage.
2011 Account Holder Survey:
Seventy-two percent of account holders indicated that they actively chose the HSA-qualified plan although other plan options exist for them.
Eighty-two percent of account holders surveyed reported that the ability to save tax-free money was “extremely” or “very” important in selecting an HSA-qualified plan.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents state that having an HSA is valuable to them.
Sixty-four percent of respondents state that their HDHP/HSA combination meets their family’s needs.
These surveys, commissioned in the fall of this year by ACS and conducted by Buck Consultants, both of which are Xerox companies, generated more than 14,000 existing account holder and 300 employer responses.
The surveys are the largest ever conducted on the subject of HDHPs and HSAs.
The ACS | HSA Solution was one of the first HSA products in the market in 2004 and has grown to be the nation’s leading administrator. With more than 25,000 employer implementations and $1 billion in HSA assets – it is the number-one health savings account provider in the nation.
Source: Insurance Broadcasting.com