According to consultants Towers Watson, enrollment has nearly doubled in the last two years alone for account-based health plans when paired with a tax-preferred HSA or HRA account having individual deductibles of $1,000 or more. Data from 2012 indicates that nearly 30 percent of Americans have one of these options in place and more than two-thirds of employers have implemented these plans. Surveys even show that more than 10 percent of employers have made account-based plans their only offering, which is an increase from just over 7 percent in 2010.
Public Entities Slow To Change
While public employers are lagging behind private employers, one exception is the State of Indiana, where 90 percent of all state workers who have employer-sponsored coverage are participating in an account-based health plan. While far too many public employers are passing up available cost savings by failing to offer consumer directed options, the bigger problem is that they are missing out on the opportunity to change the way employees think about their health and well-being. Research increasingly indicates that those with HSAs and HRAs are more willing to talk with a physician about treatment options and costs before actually seeking care. They also are more inclined to use online tools to manage their health care expenses.
The Impact of Health Care Reform
The fact that HRAs and HSAs will be offered on public exchanges should mean that they will survive when PPACA is more fully implemented in 2014. Details and regulations surrounding these accounts, however, have yet to be formalized. At this point, all we can do is hope that the burdens placed on these accounts are not so great that they off set the cost savings and employee engagement features that have continued to improve over the past several years.
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In cooperation with NAEBA