The number of HSAs and HRAs grew to 5.7 million in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2006, according to new analysis from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Assets in these accounts also increased to $7.7 billion in 2010, up from $835.4 million in 2006.
Among other findings, the EBRI/MGA survey found no relationship between either account balance or rollover amounts and various cost-conscious behaviors such as checking prices before getting services, or asking for generic drugs instead of brand names, among other things.
"It is expected that individuals who are given more control over funds allocated for health care services will become more cost conscious, especially once they become more educated about the actual price of health services," said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI's Health Research and Education Program and author of the report. "However, no evidence was found to support this with respect to some of the measures used in this study of cost-conscious behavior."
Among the survey's findings:
- Steady growth: The number of HSAs and HRAs grew to 5.7 million in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2006. Assets in these accounts also increased to $7.7 billion in 2010, up from $835.4 million in 2006.
- Average account balances: Although HSAs and HRAs continue to grow, the report found the average account balance dropped slightly in 2010 to $1,355, down from $1,419 in 2009. Men held higher average balances ($1,525) than women ($1,321). Older individuals (ages 55-64) held higher average balances ($1,791), than those younger than ($1,250-$1,400). Additionally, the study found that people who exercised, did not smoke, and were not obese held higher balances than those with less healthy behaviors.
- Rollovers: Despite a decline in the average rollover amount in 2010, total assets being rolled over have been increasing; $4.2 billion was rolled over in 2010, up from $4 billion in 2009. The average rollover increased from $592 in 2006 to $1,295 in 2009, and fell to $1,029 in 2010. The percentage of individuals without a rollover decreased from 23 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2009 and increased slightly to 13 percent in 2010.
- Race: Minorities with HRAs or HSAs have higher account balances that whites with these accounts. On average, minorities have an account balance of $1,531, while whites have an account balance of $1,387. However, both experienced a decline between 2009 and 2010; however, the decline was larger among minorities.
- Household Income: Account balances increased with household income. The average account balance was $1,166 among individuals with less than $50,000 in household income; $1,303 among individuals with $50,000-$99,999, and $1,742 among individuals with $100,000 or more. Account balances increased for those with less than $50,000 in household income; fell for those with $50,000-$99,999, and stayed the same for those with $100,000 or more.
- Education: Education has an impact on account balances independent of income and other variables. Individuals with a high school degree or less have an average of $1,219 in their account, while those with a college degree have $1,519, and those with a graduate degree have $1,558. Only individuals with a graduate degree experienced a decline in their average account balance in 2010.
Health savings accoutns are becoming a more popular mainstream health care option. HSA administrator HSA Bank, for example, announced Jan. 6 it has surpassed $1 billion in health savings account deposits.
"We have seen the popularity of HSAs skyrocket with employers and consumers in 2010 and entering 2011," said Kirk Hoewisch, president of HSA Bank. "But reaching $1 billion is an important milestone for the HSA industry as well as HSA Bank."