Achieve better results with HSAs
In a recent Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) webcast, industry experts suggested ways to approach employees about HSAs and strategies to help them more effectively meet their current and future needs.
Panelists for the June 10 webinar “HSA Thought Leadership: Challenging Conventional Thinking for Better Results” included Ann Brisk, Senior Vice President, Director of Strategic Partnerships at HSA Bank; Dan Milfred, CFO and Senior Vice President at Pacific Woodtech; and moderator Laura Finn, senior consultant at Financial Finesse.
Implement a program involving HSAs
Panelists advocated a goal-based approach. They propose:
- Make HSA resources relevant to your employees. For example, Milfred advocated integrating HSAs into a larger conversation, and Finn suggested offering employees coaching to save money. “Make the process specific to individuals,” she said. “Executives are sometimes skeptical that employees are putting money aside for HSAs,” Brisk observed, “but people will find the money if they have it.”
- Include stand-alone HSA courses to shed light on how they can help employees through all stages of their careers. Keep the sessions short.
- Create dedicated HSA resources that can be integrated with education on disability leave, family expansions, retirement preparation packages, and more.
- Consider goal-oriented marketing that includes HSAs as well as resources from multiple vendors. For example, one can suggest: “Facing a medical debt? Here’s how your ABC benefits can help.
They suggest that best practices include:
- Develop a multi-year strategy. “Having a plan is the key,” Milfred said.
- Align the design of the HSA plan and program with overall goals. “You have to have a goal on how to cover the employees,” Milfred said.
- Understand your demographics. “Understand your base. Understand the average age of your employees, ”Brisk suggested, adding that younger and older employees are the most likely to use HSAs. Finn noted that more people are feeling overwhelmed with choices than before, and that saving in an HSA may seem unattainable to some people.
- Evaluate your High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in an attractive way.
The panel advocated a variety of steps to strengthen employee engagement with HSAs:
- Requires active registration. That, the panel said, includes avoiding a default approach, helping employees “do the math” and providing employees with support with their decisions.
- Display “the skin in the game”. Brisk suggested that employers who offer an HSA program “put the skin in the game” and that this demonstrates an employer’s commitment to their employees. Doing so involves aggressive pricing of plans, seed contributions, and matching contributions, the panel said.
The panel argued that matching contributions:
- are understood in the context of the 401 (k) match and are universally practiced;
- encourage an “active” role;
- dramatically increase balances;
- save the employer’s money;
- improve the perception that benefits have value; and
- improve employee retirement preparation.
“There are ways to involve them differently,” said Brisk. “Getting them to look at HSAs and save holistically when addressing underlying issues will have better results. “
So what does HSA success look like? Panelists suggest that an HSA, and a program that involves them, is successful if it results in:
- a better ability to manage health care spending, now and in the future;
- better understanding and engagement in health decisions;
- better health outcomes;
- accelerated preparation for retirement; and
- peace of mind and confidence in health and wealth outcomes.
“No one is worse off because of their participation in an HSA,” Milfred said. “Anything you can do to resolve people’s hesitation or stress about this is a good thing. ”