As employers continue to look for ways to cut health care costs and improve consumerism among the work force, consumer-directed health plans, and health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, are expected to remain strong in 2012.

HSAs, in particular, could see growth throughout the year, says Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy at National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit dedicated to representing large employers' perspective on national health policy issues. FSAs have become a standard benefit and are commonly offered, especially among larger employers, while HSAs are starting to attract more attention not only because of their tax benefits but also in light of the provision that allows a participant to roll over unused funds year to year, which isn't allowed with FSAs.

"The advantage of an HSA over an FSA is you can build up the account over time and invest in it," Wojcik says. "HSAs aren't like FSAs where you have to spend it during the current year or lose the money. A lot of people now that have had HSAs are building up significant balances on a tax-free basis, and that word of mouth spreading. It's getting other people interested in HSAs."

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