Early Communication, Active Enrollment Important for HSA Success

May 11 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers instituting Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) should make sweeping changes to all health plan designs, require an active benefits enrollment, communicate plan adjustments early and provide education support and cost calculators.

That advice was contained in a new Fidelity Investment research report based on the experience with clients since HSAs became available last year.

Fidelity’s clients were able to share key lessons they had learned about implementing HSAs as part of their benefits strategy, according to a Fidelity news release:

  • early adopter employers who saw the strongest HSA enrollment rates – up to half of their employee base in some cases – made design changes to their health care plans beyond simply adding an HSA option. This required employees to make a conscious decision about their health care plan during annual enrollment.
  • early adopters who communicated new health plan changes early, and in each stage of implementation, were most successful in terms of HSA enrollment among employees.
  • clients said they saw a stronger need for education support including cost calculators when it comes to health care benefits choices.

In addition, Fidelity said its health care consultants gathered additional insights from employers who were quick to jump on the HSA bandwagon.

  • Employers should clearly understand the role that HSAs will play in their overall benefits strategy.
  • Early Adopters found it critical to gain the support of not only senior management, but also line managers.
  • When introducing a new benefit plan option, such as an HSA, it is important that employers show their workforce they are serious about making these changes by providing some level of employer contribution.
  • It is critical that employers understand how new plan designs could affect different groups of employees in their population in terms of health benefits costs and consumption.
  • Early Adopter employers stressed that the “devil is in the details” when it comes to account implementation and administration.