Help Your Employees Take Advantage of Their HSA in 2021

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is one way to save significant money on health care costs

woman and man working together

For employees enrolled in high deductible health plans (HDHPs), a Health Savings Account (HSA) is a way to save significant money on health care costs. Meanwhile, when your employees divert a portion of their paycheck directly to their HSA, you pay less in FICA taxes. It’s a win-win.

Unfortunately, many employees enrolled in high deductible plans don’t take advantage of the benefits of HSAs. In fact, according to a recent survey, approximately 1 in 3 adults enrolled in a high-deductible health plan didn’t have an HSA. Among those who did, most hadn’t contributed any money to it in the last year.1 Lack of understanding of HSAs seems to be one of the main culprits: One study found that an astounding 89% of those surveyed couldn’t correctly identify the attributes of an HSA.2

There are other barriers, too. HSAs are often separated from the health plan portal, making them more difficult to use. Participants often don’t know how much to contribute to their account or what health care products and services are HSA-eligible. They may have to track their HSA-eligible expenses manually or carry a separate debit card for HSA purchases. For some the hassle just doesn’t seem worth it.

But with so many people feeling anxious about their financial situation and their health because of the pandemic, this is the ideal time to encourage your employees to take advantage of an HSA. Here are some suggestions:

1. Break down the benefits. Make sure your employees understand the triple tax benefits of HSAs: Any money they put into the HSA—up to $3,600 per individual / $7,200 per family in 2021—is deductible from their annual income, just like the money they invest in their 401K plan. If they earn interest on their contributions, it’s not taxed. Any withdrawals are tax-free, too, when they’re used for qualified medical expenses. Plus: Employees don’t have to use the money they contribute to their HSA within a certain timeframe, as with an FSA. Whatever money they don’t spend on medical expenses in a given year stays in their account for future use.

2. Keep employees up to date on qualified expenses. Your employees may not realize just how many expenses they can use their HSA funds for—much more than just copays and prescription drug costs. Expenses ranging from vision care to cold medicine to birth control to acupuncture are all covered. The passage of the CARES Act in 2020 in response to the pandemic led to the addition of even more qualified medical expenses: HSA funds can now be used to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that previously required a prescription from a physician, copays for telehealth visits, and, for the first time, menstrual care products.3 The IRS has a comprehensive, up-to-date list of qualified medical expenses that you can share with your employees.

3. Make it easy to stay organized. A common complaint about HSAs is the tracking and bookkeeping involved—having to keep tabs on contributions, log expenditures, and hang on to receipts for qualified expenses. It can also be difficult for employees to get a sense of how much they’re actually saving, or where they stand with regard to their health plan deductible. There are numerous tracking tools and calculators available online, some paid, some free, to help employees manage their HSA account and spending.

Better yet, choose an HSA that has these tools built in. Bend, a new recommended HSA administrator for Advantage Saver HMO and PPO, the Tufts Health Plan high-deductible health plans (HDHP), provides simplified HSA administration for employers and employees alike. With Bend, participants have access to a dashboard with one-click access to everything they need to manage their HSA. It’s integrated with their health plan data, too. There are tools to help employees plan their contributions, track their progress toward their deductible, manage their health care expenses, and invest the money in their HSA account.

Now more than ever, it makes sense for your employees in high deductible plans to reap the financial benefits of an HSA plan. To learn more about Tufts Health Plan Advantage Saver HDHP and the Bend HSA Platform, call your broker or account representative, or contact our sales and service department.

  1. Use of Health Savings Accounts Among US Adults Enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans - JAMA Network, 2020
  2. 2019 Workplace Benefits Report - Bank of America, 2019
  3. IRS outlines changes to health care spending available under CARES Act - IRS, 2020