Research shows that employees overwhelmingly use their health savings accounts (HSAs) for current medical expenses. But being able to invest and carry forward the account balance can help the account holder establish better retirement security. It’s important for employers to understand how they can educate their workers on HSA’s as a financial wellness tool and provide information on how to use them.
In the 15 months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, MetLife has discovered further reasons to offer HSAs: They have a positive impact on workers shaken by the pandemic’s resulting financial uncertainties.
The 19th Annual Benefit Trends Study, fielded in December 2020 and January 2021, found that employees who owned an HSA were 22% more likely to feel as though their benefits helped reduce financial stress overall than employees without one.
The study indicates that, compared to employees without an HSA, employees who owned an HSA felt significantly better about their own financial wellness and much better able to manage stress relating to their personal finances. In fact, they were 22% more likely to say they felt better in general—physically, financially, mentally and socially.
“Two-thirds [64%] of employees with a health savings account say they feel confident about the current state of their finances,” notes Juliane Kowalski, senior vice president of Product Development at MetLife. “This falls to just over half [53%] of those who don’t have this benefit. Those with an HSA are significantly more apt to be confident in saving and investing for the future.
“And that,” she continues, “translates into more employees feeling financially healthy who are then feeling more physically healthy and really having more of a sense of well-being overall and satisfaction with their benefits and their employer.”
During the pandemic, the study found, employers facilitating contributions into HSAs could—and many did—remind their workers of the accounts’ value as a tax-free source of funding for medical-related expenses such as refilling first-aid kits and buying essential medical supplies as a preventive measure.
“What came out of the study is that the most actionable steps employers can take really involve helping their employees be more resilient,” Kowalski says. She particularly cites flexible arrangements for performing one’s job as playing an important role. “This time has certainly proven that ‘work from home’ is something that can work for many businesses and for many job types.”
Indeed, an employer HSA program was just one of 10 benefits employees said would currently ease their stress and improve their well-being. Some others were increased paid time off, a work-from-home policy, flexible work hours and arrangements, and a mental wellness program.
Striving for resiliency serves employees and employers alike. Businesses have needed resilient employees, who could endure the pandemic’s ongoing stresses and adapt to a changing workplace. To help their workers grow in this way, employers have been acknowledging their top-down responsibilities and creating that holistic experience employees request—an experience that addresses their changing priorities regarding safety, mental health and more.
When employers support their employees, especially in the face of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, employees report feeling more successful, valued/appreciated, engaged, productive and respected. If employees are unsupported, reports of those feelings drop significantly, the study says.
“We know that support from their employers is essential to help employees successfully manage both work and life,” Kowalski says. She also noted that flexibility plus a reasonable workload, sufficient time to address personal needs and flexible work arrangements can do much to lessen negative employee outcomes.
Tying together all employee benefits is critical from an educational standpoint but also for helping employees see how all pieces of their employee plans’ benefits can play together for them and really help support them. “This is really meaningful in terms of contrasting how these very actionable steps that an employer can take can contribute to resiliency in a workforce and help employees combat and financial wellness stress generally and add to their overall well-being.”
Employees With an HSA*
|22%||more likely to say their current benefits package helps to reduce their financial stress;|
|19%||more likely to feel financially healthy;|
|9%||more likely to feel physically healthy;|
|22%||more likely to feel well across all aspects of their well-being: mental, physical, social, financial;|
|44%||more likely to report increased loyalty to their employers over the past year;|
|16%||more likely to say they trust their employer’s leadership; and|
|15%||more likely to feel valued and appreciated at work.|
*Compared to employees without an HSA
Source: MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study 2021
MetLife provides a suite of Health Savings & Spending Account products including HSA, FSA, HRA, Commuter and COBRA benefits. Contact MetLife at MetLife_Contact_Us_HSA_FSA@metlife.com to learn more.
Nothing in these materials is intended to be, nor should be construed as, advice or a recommendation for a particular situation or individual.
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