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06/04/2019

Plan Sponsors Say Educating Employees about HSAs is Top Concern

PSCA releases results from inaugural HSA benchmarking survey.

Suggesting the growing convergence of health and retirement savings, more than half of respondents educate employees on allocating assets between their 401(k)/403(b) plan and a Health Savings Account (HSA) – but employee education remains the dominant concern of plan sponsors (indicated by 60% of respondents), according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s first-ever survey on HSA design and use, sponsored by Empower Retirement.

“The growth in HSA usage and assets has been explosive, yet this is still a relatively new vehicle that is widely misunderstood,” said PSCA Executive Director Jack Towarnicky. “These results indicate that plan sponsors have an opportunity to help employees understand how HSAs can be part of a holistic retirement savings plan.”

The survey of nearly two hundred plan sponsors found that the most common resources used to educate employees about their HSAs were “how-to” guides (56.6%) and group presentations (59.9%). HSA education takes place primarily at open enrollment for 76.4 percent of organizations, though one-in-five plan sponsor respondents say they offer HSA education multiple times throughout the year.

“Health savings accounts can make a substantial difference in savers’ abilities to fund their expenses in retirement – especially when contributions are directed strategically,” said Edmund F. Murphy III, President and CEO of Empower Retirement. “These survey results tell us that employers and employees are discovering the power of using HSAs as a vehicle for savings and that we must remain committed to helping them understand the best way to use these accounts to begin saving for their healthcare expenses in retirement.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • 38.2% of organizations have offered an HSA to employees for 2 to 5 years while 34.4% have offered an HSA to employees for 6 to 10 years. 
  • A quarter of organizations encourage or offer additional education to employees who do not contribute to the HSA or only contribute a nominal amount. 
  • The average participant contribution in 2018 was $2,595 and the average account balance at the end of 2018 was $5,239. 
  • The vast majority of responding organizations (85.6%) offer investment options for HSA contributions, though three-quarters require a minimum balance of at least $1,000 to invest assets beyond money market funds or cash. 
  • Fewer than 10% of organizations use or suggest a default savings rate to employees for their HSA. 

The data reported is from 189 employers that offered an HSA-qualifying health option in 2018. Media interested in obtaining a copy of the complete survey may contact Hattie Greenan at Hattie@psca.org.

About the Survey
Acknowledging the significant expansion in availability and its potential role as a retirement savings vehicle, PSCA created a committee in 2016 to focus on HSAs. In the spring of 2017 PSCA conducted a snapshot survey of companies that offer HSA-qualifying health plans to establish a baseline on HSA plan design and use. This survey, conducted in early 2019 and reflecting 2018 plan data, is the first of what will be an annual comprehensive benchmarking survey of HSAs conducted by PSCA. The survey is available for purchase at: https://www.psca.org/2019HSASurvey