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DIY Stance Holding Back HSA Adoption

PSCA’s 3rd annual HSA survey finds some consistent trends emerging.

Arlington, VA (August 10, 2021) – Many organizations still do not have a formal health savings account (HSA) program, leaving it up to the employee to set up and manage the account themselves, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s annual Health Savings Account (HSA) Survey, sponsored by Empower Retirement.

Moreover, while three-quarters of employers offer health options in addition to the HSA-qualifying option, at nearly 70 percent of small organizations the HSA health option is the only option. For organizations that do have formal HSA programs, most make contributions, offer investment options, and pay HSA-related fees.

“Setting up an HSA can seem daunting to employees, and indeed, when given the choice, nearly half of employees choose something other than the HSA-qualifying health option, which is rarely the default option,” noted Nevin E. Adams, JD, head of Retirement Research at the American Retirement Association.  “We know that HSAs can be a powerful tool for additional retirement savings, but if we want people to use them as such, they need the education and support to do so.”

Key findings from the survey include:

· The average participant contribution in 2020 was $2,958, up from $2,595 in 2019 and 2018.  The average account balance at the end of 2020 was $6,318, up from $5,627 in 2019.

· Most employers (83.2 percent) make contributions to the HSA, including three-quarters of smaller organizations. Most organizations (96.8 percent) made no changes to employer contributions in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (2.6 percent reduced contributions and fewer than one percent suspended them) and most also kept the contributions the same for 2021 (93.4 percent).

· The vast majority of organizations (84.4 percent) offer investment options for HSA contributions. Nearly 20 percent of participants invested assets in 2020, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all HSA assets.

· Thirty-five percent of organizations automatically enroll employees in the HSA if they enroll in the HSA-qualifying health option, up from 32.2 percent in 2019.

Despite gains in other areas, employers main concern regarding their HSA program remains participant education. More than 80 percent of employers cited employee education as a top HSA concern. The top education priority for more than 60 percent of survey respondents is explaining HSA tax preferences, followed distantly by explaining contribution limits (13.2 percent).

“It’s heartening to see employers and employees increasingly recognize the value of HSAs – not only as a way to save for today’s health expenses, but also as an integral part of a retirement saving plan,” said Tina Wilson, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Empower Retirement. “We need to continue to find new ways to educate those employees about the tremendous tax advantages of HSAs, while also making it easier for them to enroll.”

About the Survey
The data reported is from 191 employers that offered an HSA-qualifying health option in 2020. The full report is available on PSCA’s website.

About the Plan Sponsor Council of America
The Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA), part of the American Retirement Association (ARA), is a diverse, collaborative community of employee benefit plan sponsors, working together on behalf of millions of employees to solve real problems, create positive change, and expand on the success of the employer-sponsored retirement system. With members representing employers of all sizes, we offer a forum for comprehensive dialogue. By sharing our collective knowledge and experience as plan sponsors, PSCA also serves as a resource to policymakers, the media, and other stakeholders as part of our commitment to improving retirement security for millions of Americans. For more information, visit

About Empower Retirement
Headquartered in metro Denver, Empower Retirement administers approximately $1 trillion in assets for more than 12 million retirement plan participants as of March 31, 2021. It is the nation’s second-largest retirement plan recordkeeper by total participants.1 Empower serves all segments of the employer-sponsored retirement plan market: government 457 plans; small, midsize and large corporate 401(k) clients; not-for-profit 403(b) entities; Taft-Hartley plans; private-label recordkeeping clients; and IRA and brokerage customers. Personal Capital, a subsidiary of Empower Retirement, is an industry-leading hybrid wealth manager. For more information please visit and connect with us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

1 Pensions & Investments 2020 Defined Contribution Survey Ranking as of April 2021.