Industry Trends: HDHPs and HSAs Still Going Strong

Industry Trends: HDHPs and HSAs Still Going Strong

The number of people enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) continues to grow, though at a slightly slower pace than in previous years. According to America’s Health Insurance Plan Report, 20 million U.S. residents were covered through HSA-compatible, individual, small-group, or large-group plans in 2016.

HDHP and HSA plans paired with creative voluntary benefit offerings to fill the ‘gaps’ of employee deductible responsibility have been a way to build a more diverse and comprehensive benefit plan while offsetting cost as the major driver.

As companies get more creative with their employee benefits packages, the prevalence of voluntary benefits will continue to expand. Employers are also contributing more to their workers’ HSAs—employer contributions to individual and family HSAs have increased by an average of nine percent over the past year, to $571 and $1,138, respectively.  This helps the transition to the higher deductible option and makes it a more palatable move.

Employers can’t do much, however, to rein in the rapidly increasing cost of specialty drugs and employees will bear part of the brunt. The average copay for a month’s prescription of a specialty medication has risen 31 percent, from $74 to $97. However, this is where the biggest influence in the success of these plans needs to be addressed—constant education and communication and purchasing lower costing, as effective alternatives.

The perfect benefits package means nothing if an employee doesn’t know how to properly choose and use it. Our job as your consultant is to strengthen benefits education so employees can make the best choices for their individual needs. Due to the additional risk and responsibility placed on employees in these plans, income protection benefits, financial wellness, and digital health will begin to play a more significant part of the employee’s ‘toolbox’. Easy to follow educational videos, anytime access to plan documents and examples, and a pricing transparency search engine tool can help employees quickly understand and navigate the uncertainty of the HDHP and HSA complexities.