Lack of Education Biggest Barrier to HSA Adoption

More than half of respondents to a survey said it is up to employers to educate employees about HSAs, FSAs and HRAs.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of health care industry professionals rate consumers’ understanding of health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) as mediocre, while 28% rate it as poor.

HSAs were rated as the most difficult to understand by 40% of respondents to the survey by Acclaris, a health plan service and technology provider.  This was followed by HRAs, at 27%.

Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents identified understanding when an HSA can/should be used as the most critical gap in consumer knowledge. Understanding which expenses are reimbursable (20%) and knowing when to use health care accounts (18%) were also identified as top gaps.

Lack of education (63%) was cited as the biggest barrier to adoption of health savings and reimbursement accounts. More than half (53%) said employers are responsible for educating consumers about these benefits.

NEXT: How and what to communicate.

The majority of respondents agreed that consumers need information at all points in the benefits process (47%) and continuously throughout the year (21%). Only 7% said information could be limited to enrollment time.

When asked about the top challenges for consumer education and engagement, more than half of respondents called out consumers’ passive role (56%), lack of understanding about the long-term account benefit (52%) and that consumers struggle with the connection between health care and spending accounts (51%).

Email, online help and benefits portals were ranked as the most effective communication channels by survey respondents, while text, telephone and social media bottomed out the list. One-on-one conversations and frequently asked questions (FAQs) were rated as the most effective types of content, and podcasts and pop-up tips were the least liked types of content.

Acclaris conducted the online survey in June and July, with more than 300 health care professionals. The survey report is here.