The New Year is often a time to make improvements via resolutions. The same approach can be effective when working to improve employee benefits. Below are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for improving your health savings account (HSA) program and maximizing the benefit of the account by taking advantage of health savings account rules.
Based on feedback from various stakeholders, including clients, seminar attendees and prospective clients, below are some of the more difficult challenges employers encounter in administering HSA programs and resolutions to meet those challenges.
Resolve to make HSA implementation less complicated and more accurate.
Employers often encounter complicated implementation processes that result in mismanaged data, processing errors, numerous (and lengthy) conference calls and overall dissatisfaction with both the processes and results. Resolve to find an HSA administrator that has designed a process that can be conducted online on a self-serve basis, or, for those who would like some guidance, offers an implementation team that is ready to help guide the process during one conference call that typically averages 30 minutes. Health savings account rules can be confusing. Choose an administrator that educates, guides and maximizes the benefits of the HSA.
Resolve to make communications and HSA education an ongoing process.
Sending a few communications only in the lead up to open enrollment is a mistake. There have been a number of recent surveys that point to confusion regarding how HSAs work, including the misconception that HSAs work like flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in that FSAs have to be spent by the end of the year or the end of a grace period. HSA funds are retained by the accountholder until spent. Information that clarifies these points is needed year-round as the HSA is used year-round.
These communications don’t have to be cumbersome or overly frequent. Monthly email messages that educate and inform often work well. Lunch and learn sessions are also an effective way to educate employees. Consider finding an employee who has had success with the HSA and its compatible health plan. Ask them to talk to other employees during a lunch and learn. Include the stories of their success in company communications, including emails, newsletters, brochures and the like. Find an HSA administrator that will strike an effective balance between frequency and quality of communications.
Resolve to make technology less cumbersome.
Many HR professionals have also reported poor experiences with vendor platform technology. Whether it was cumbersome to use, didn’t perform as promised or in general created challenges, technology was high on the list of complaints. Resolve to choose an HSA administrator that has created its platform from the start to be user-friendly, intuitive and educational. Such an administrator would have a development team that works continuously to add new features that make the implementation, service and ongoing use as simple and effective as possible.
Some administrators use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide personalized guidance and advice to accountholders who can then use that guidance to maximize the value of their HSA. Some HSA administrators call data mining AI. Consider administrators that use true AI that use tools such as machine learning and answering questions to provide the greatest benefit to employees.
Resolve to make it easier for employees to contribute to the HSA and maximize its financial benefits.
Enlightened HSA administrators have developed a technology platform that makes contributing to the HSA easy. The platform will also make it easy to make one-time contributions and change regular contributions as needed—right on the accountholder website. Paying providers, saving receipts for future reimbursement, and investing unused HSA funds should also be easy for employees to maneuver and execute.
Resolve to eliminate poor service and improve support from your HSA administrator.
HSA service has proven to be a particularly sore point for many employers. The errors that have been experienced by them vary from poorly loaded data files to employees not receiving resolution on phone inquiries. Resolution of these challenges at the time leads to additional issues. For example, some HSA administrators want to send employees a new flyer each time there is a challenge, hoping the information will guide employees to resolve their own problems.
Choose an administrator that provides open enrollment educational materials for employees as well as a high-level of service to both you as an employer and your employees. An administrator that approaches the relationship in a resolution-oriented manner and meets the needs of employees on the first call, if at all possible, is ideal.
Resolve to keep notes and records about your HSA program.
Let’s face it, you’ve likely just completed open enrollment and next year’s benefits offerings aren’t on your radar. For that reason, best practice dictates that you keep some records so that when planning for 2021 begins, this discussion will be top of mind. Include how your current HSA program is working throughout the year and what you will require when seeking a new administrator, if appropriate.
When Bend’s founding team designed the Bend HSA, it was our goal to disrupt the industry by creating an HSA administrator that uses technology to vastly improve service and make the experience better and more effective for our clients. Our offering uses the latest technology to provide the greatest benefits, make it simple to use and educational for employees. Learn more.