Employers Tout Cost Savings from HSAs

November 10, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The “2011 Employer and Account Holder Surveys,” commissioned by ACS, a Xerox Company, and conducted by Buck Consultants, show a majority of small employers (77%) believe that High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) are key in controlling health care costs.

HDHPs are less costly to employers for both individual and family coverage. Employers report 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.  

According to a press release, 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% stated that they are at least very likely to discontinue offering the HSA-qualified plan in the future. And, only 7% of employers stated that they would be at least very likely to move employees to future health care exchanges.  

Other findings of the Employer Survey include: 

  • The average employer that implemented an HDHP and HSA program has 49% of eligible employees enrolled in the HDHP; 
  • Sixty-nine percent of employer respondents contributed to their employees’ HSA accounts; and 
  • Employers’ contributions to HSAs average $1,000 for individual coverage and $1,500 for family coverage. 

Employees Cite HSA Benefits Too  

The “2011 Employer and Account Holder Surveys,” commissioned by ACS, a Xerox Company, and conducted by Buck Consultants, show more than half (56%) of Health Savings Account (HSA) account holders have found that their HSA-qualified plan provides an affordable health care option.  

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%), but they are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices (18%), researching preventive care programs (18%), shopping for lower priced prescription drugs (28%), and planning health care better throughout the year (31%). Individuals perceive that they consume medical services at approximately the same rate but are shopping for care more than before.  

Other findings of the Account Holder Survey include: 

  • 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; and  
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents state that their HDHP/HSA combination meets their family’s needs. 

The 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.