Education Needed to Improve HSA Enrollment

June 3, 2009 ( - A new survey by the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America finds that six years after health savings accounts (HSAs) were introduced as part of the solution to reducing health care costs, only 59% of consumers know about them and more than half of those who are aware do not understand key features of HSAs.

When asked why they do not participate in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and HSAs, consumers cited a variety of reasons, including expense and lack of knowledge, according to a press release. More than half (52%) of survey participants did not know that HSA contributions are not subject to tax, and 55% think they must pay taxes on withdrawals even when they are used for qualified medical expenses.

Portability is another area of confusion, The Guardian found, with 60% of respondents unaware that they take the HSA with them should they change jobs.

“A truly comprehensive consumer-driven health offering must also provide plan members with the education and tools they need to make smart healthcare decisions,” said Tim Bireley, Vice President of Group Medical, in the press release.

According to the survey, two key motivators that would make consumer-driven healthcare more appealing to consumers are employer contributions to the HSA (61%) and the inclusion of critical illness insurance coverage (57%). Eighty-five percent of consumers stated they want more control over decisions that can influence the cost of their healthcare.

A copy of The Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on Consumer Driven Health Plans survey is available at .