There are two reasons an employer would want to enroll workers into a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA): Lower costs and get employees to become smarter healthcare consumers. And new research shows those two goals are being met.
The concept behind HDHPs is simple: In exchange for lower premiums, enrollees pay more out of pocket for the health services they use. And when people spend more of their own money on health care, they’ll shop around for lower prices, cut back on care that isn’t medically necessary and take better care of themselves.
Turns out HDHPs attached to HSAs are doing that and much more, according to one of the most expansive research projects ever conducted on the subject of HDHPs and HSAs. It was conducted by Buck Consultants and generated responses from more than 14,000 HSA account holders and 300 employers.
Responses from HDHP/HSA users:
- 56% of account holders say their HSA-qualified plan provides an affordable healthcare option
- 54% reported setting aside more money now than before they had an HSA to cover medical costs
- 31% report better healthcare planning throughout the year
- 28% are shopping for lower prescription drugs
- 18% said they are engaging in healthier lifestyle choices, and
- 18% said they are researching preventive care programs.
In addition, Buck said HDHP/HSA users believe they consume medical services at the same rate they always have but are now shopping around for care — exactly what employers hoped starting an HDHP/HSA would do.
Responses from employers:
- Providing an HSA-qualified plan is less costly than providing a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. The average cost to provide an HDHP/HSA is $5,469 for individual coverage and $9,909 for family coverage, compared to PPO costs of $7,158 for individual coverage and $10,691 for family coverage.
- 77% of the small employers surveyed believe that HDHP/HSA plans are key in controlling health costs, and
- 69% contribute to their employees’ HSAs (on average: $1,000 for individual coverage and $1,500 for family coverage).
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