I started working in the HSA industry in 2012, a few months before the 2012 Presidential election, when some thought a re-election of President Obama could mean health savings account growth would lose the momentum it had gained over the past few years. On the flipside, a Republican in the white house could mean an acceleration of HSA adoption that would push HSAs into the public mainstream.
Well, President Obama was reelected AND health savings account growth accelerated. In fact, according to a Devenir 2018 year-end report, HSAs were owned by over 25 million Americans holding total balances exceeding $53 billion dollars. And, with account growth continuing in the double digits for the foreseeable future we can make the reasonable assertion that HSAs are indeed “mainstream.”
Along with the fast-tracked growth of HSA accounts and balances we’ve witnessed a significant change in the HSA account user experience over the past seven years – from the simple user interface with account balances and transaction history in 2012 (i.e. basic online banking functionality) to the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning offered by several administrators today.
So why the fast pace of change? In two simple words, demand & expectations. Consumers expect their web and mobile experience, regardless of the product or service they’ve purchased, to be easy to navigate, use simple terminology, and provide them with personalized information—think Amazon.com—when they want, and as importantly when they need it.
Because of this the HSA marketplace has witnessed the arrival of technology players offering powerful HSA solutions that complement the products and services offered by the traditional bank and financial services providers.
With features like healthcare expense consolidation, similar to mint.com but for healthcare expenses, proactive and personalized healthcare spending and savings guidance, and the ability to view, analyze and change pre-tax HSA contributions from one simple user interface, the future for HSA plan sponsors and their employees is now.
Healthcare is confusing and consumers need help making better decisions about how, where, and when they spend their healthcare dollars. Leveraging technological advances and data analytics, HSA providers can recommend personalized guidance to help consumers save money on future medical expenses based on their past spending habits. And, using the same consumer behavioral information, they can help individuals set and achieve incremental savings goals to meet their future healthcare needs.
For employers, the HSA program should no longer be an “oh by the way we offer an HSA” employee benefit. Rather, they should be looking at the health savings account as an employee attraction and retention tool, similar to the 401(k) plan. To do so, they need to position the value of the HSA experience as a tool to truly help employees solve problems -- e.g. healthcare is confusing and we’re not saving enough for retirement. We can accomplish this by proactively providing them with personalized spending and savings guidance and by making the value of the HSA so darn easy to understand it’s asked for, rather than given to.
If employers want to take it another step up, they can offer an HSA contribution match and use the benefit as an advertising tool by highlighting their commitment to helping employees save for healthcare and retirement.
I’m excited about the current state of the health savings industry and believe the best is yet to come. There is no better way to earn the consumer’s affection than with a user experience that truly adds value to their life.
There are not more significant opportunities to make a real difference in people’s lives than by helping them with healthcare and retirement. The HSA administrators have taken notice and they’re making investments in technology and the HSA user experience to meet demand and expectations.
Mark Siebold is President and Founder of StepUP HSA, LLC, an independent consulting firm providing financial services companies and employers with health savings advisory services including HSA provider analysis and selection, HSA plan design best practices, and employee education strategies to maximize HSA plan participation, encourage smart healthcare spending habits and help employees save for retirement. To learn more visit www.StepUPHSA.com