Most Americans don’t understand exactly what’s in their health insurance plan, but they tend to have a better idea when they manage some of the costs with a health savings account, according to a new report from HSA Bank.
For the report, “Health Plan Professionals Envision HSAs and CDH in Future Healthcare System,” the bank surveyed 326 health plan professionals and found that the majority of respondents either disagreed (39 percent) or somewhat disagreed (32 percent) with the statement: “In general, Americans with health plan coverage understand how it works.”
However, the survey also found that 45 percent of respondents believe when individuals have an HSA-based consumer-directed health plan rather than a non-HSA-based plan, their understanding of their health plan coverage improves.
“These findings reinforce the premise that consumer-directed health care makes Americans better health care consumers by improving the way they manage their health and health care spending, due to a greater understanding of their plan,” the study says. “While there is significant improvement that needs to be made to American’s understanding of health care and plan coverage, HSAs and CDH plans, when combined with ongoing education and tools that compare cost, quality and value could close this gap.”
While the majority of respondents (56 percent) believe “reduced costs for individuals and their families” is the most important improvement that should be made in health care reform, a quarter of respondents (26 percent) indicated “increased personal control” as the second most important improvement to health care reform.
“Increased personal control is the premise of consumer-directed health care and HSAs, enabling consumers to select providers and services based on cost, quality and value,” the study says.
When the respondents were asked about enhancements to the existing HSA structure that would be most valuable to consumers, the top three survey responses were:
expanding the definition of high-deductible health plans to allow more Americans to benefit from the triple tax advantage when funds are used to pay for to IRS-qualified medical expenses;
increasing the funding limits to allow consumers to cover the entire out-of-pocket exposure of the health plan with HSA funds, as well as to provide a savings vehicle to grow funds needed to pay for health care expenses in retirement;
and creating a Medicare HSA option to allow Americans enrolled in Medicare to open and fund a tax-advantaged account to help them pay and save for health care in retirement. Currently, individuals enrolled in Medicare are unable to contribute to an HSA.
“The value of consumer-directed health care and specifically HSAs in the future health care system can be seen in the responses from health plan professionals who are seeking increased personal control for consumers, greater consumer understanding of plan coverage, and improvements to
HSAs that would simplify the accounts and expand access for Americans,” the authors conclude.