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June 2018

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

06/20/2018

by Jackie Dornfeld

 

The financial and physical health of many Americans is alarming. About 40 percent of U.S. adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense1, and less than three percent of Americans live a “healthy lifestyle”2.  In addition, according to the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, most U.S. workers find healthcare confusing, spend less than 30 minutes annually making benefit decisions, and are increasingly concerned about out-of-pocket medical expenses today and in retirement. All of this can result in a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, leading to stress and chronic disease, and ending in devastating medical expenses and financial ruin. Frightening.

 

Building Resilience

To help break this spiral, consumers need support in developing resilience against health and financial stress. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), helping consumers use good judgement and a strategy to spend, save, borrow, and plan can help build financial health:

Source:  CFSI, Insuring the Way to a Financially Resilient America, June 2018

 

 Enter Consumer-Driven Health and Mobile Technology

A tax advantaged, consumer-driven health account such as a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or flexible spending account (FSA) accessed using mobile technology is one specific path to resilience. For instance, paying for qualified medical expenses with HSA funds can yield savings of 22 to 40 percent. And, with 79 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a smartphone3, many consumers prefer using mobile apps to manage both their personal finances and health benefits.  

 

Building the Right Consumer Experience

The WEX Health Cloud Mobile App is an example of how key features can be delivered that help consumers use their consumer-driven health account to spend, save, borrow and plan.

With the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App, Consumers Can…

  • Spend:
    • Use fingerprint login and enhanced authentication options to:
      • Pay bills using HSA, HRA, or FSA funds
      • Snap a photo of a receipt and submit with a new or existing claim
      • Request an HSA distribution
    • Save:
      • Contribute funds to an HSA or FSA to build savings
      • View HSA investment details to gauge progress against savings goals
    • Borrow:
      • Check account balances including HSA Advance, which is a WEX Health feature that allows employees to borrow against future HSA balances to cover unplanned expenses
    • Plan:
      • Scan a product bar code to determine eligibility as a qualified medical expense
      • View “Account Snapshot” graphics to assess status of account details

 

 

Looking to the Future

As consumers become more sophisticated and their digital expectations grow, opportunities exist to enhance and personalize the mobile experience even further with price transparency tools, calculators, targeted messaging, guidance tools, fitness resources, and more. By delivering mobile innovations that engage consumers in managing their financial and physical health, we empower better decision-making and accountability for millions of Americans.

 

To learn more about consumer attitudes and expectations regarding healthcare expenses, preferences for using online tools and mobile apps, and more, read the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Report on the Economic Well-being of U.S. Households, 2017
  2. Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2016
  3. ComScore, 2016

 


Jackie Dornfeld

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Jackie Dornfeld is the Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health, responsible for annual product roadmap planning and the research, definition, and launch of new products including the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App.  She has over 25 years in health care including leadership positions in the areas of product development, product management, marketing and strategic planning.  Prior to joining WEX Health in 2008, Jackie held roles in the TPA, health plan, consulting, and hospital industries and is currently active on the Membership Committee of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust.  Jackie received a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  


Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 2-3: The Virtuous Cycle of Financial Health

06/19/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

It has been nearly a week since I soaked up the last bit of California sunshine outside and thought-provoking content and connections inside during closing sessions at the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s annual conference, CFSI EMERGE. Each request from colleagues to “provide a quick recap” reminds me of another insight that can spark innovative solutioning, resource we can communicate across the network of WEX Health Partners, or quote that could inspire broad mind shifts.

 

Inclusion Is a Choice

The CFSI team brought together an impressive and inspiring group of keynote speakers for this year’s forum. Almost all of them spoke about inclusion in one way or another. In all six of the 2018 Financial Solutions Lab winners I saw new products built by people who found ingenious ways to serve populations whose needs were not previously being met by mainstream financial institutions. Industry leaders Colin Walsh of Varo Money and Jacqueline Reses of Square Inc. shared how their respective missions of making money management tools and business loans easy and readily available to young people and small business owners has radically shifted mind sets and approaches. Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, inspired us with his stories of growing up with nothing, staying in a state of empathy by spending time living on the streets of New York City as a homeless person, and the responsibility and moral obligation that business leaders have to be forces of good in the world.

 

Fast Money/Slow Money

Always on the lookout for “aha” moments, I certainly was not disappointed at this event. Naveen Agarwal, chief customer officer at Prudential, explained that we all engage in “fast-money” transactions – $18 here, $30 there, $6 at the coffee drive-thru. They are quick, easy and frequent. We don’t give these transactions much thought. And then there are “slow-money” transactions like mortgages or college loans. These kinds of transactions are stressful, requiring collateral, credit checks, co-signers, legal reviews, and dozens of signatures. We’ve been programmed to avoid slow-money transactions, and this automatically informs our financial behaviors, such as renting versus buying to build up equity. When we can apply design thinking across the industry and simplify slow-money transactions to the point where they are as simple as fast-money transactions, we might all be more inclined to make wiser financial decisions.

 

Volatility Is the Real Income Problem

Daryl Collins with Bankable Frontier Associates relayed how similar her interviews were with small family-run business owners in Nigeria and Kentucky. Both had six to eight sources of income, about a third of them unpredictable. Both managed complex juggling acts, prioritizing which bills to pay and which to delay, deftly moving funds between several accounts, and somehow getting by. After having hundreds of these conversations in places all around the world, Daryl discovered a few universal needs—evening out the income streams and making temporary bridges or “floats” available to get through the tight times. I was very encouraged to hear that so many of the new products being launched by industry leaders like MasterCard, Fiserv, PayPal and Square are all about addressing these universal needs—for all people, not just those who already are accustomed to having ready access to financial services…and stability.

 

Thank you for coming along with me on this quick tour of the CFSI EMERGE Financial Health Forum. I am even more excited about the many ways WEX Health can help advance the cause of improved financial health due to our unique position at the intersection of healthcare and financial services. To read my observations on day one at EMERGE, read our post here. And for more information about the Center for Financial Services Innovation, see www.cfsinnovation.org. [https://cfsinnovation.org/]

For more news and insights from WEX Health-ers, follow us on Twitter at @wexhealthinc.

 


Tracy-Faleide WEX Health

 

Tracy Faleide

Marketing Lead at WEX Health

As Marketing Lead at WEX Health, Tracy provides direction on high-level messaging and thought leadership strategies. Tracy and her team are accountable for product marketing and ongoing internal, external and Partner communications. Although Tracy is new to WEX Health, having joined the team in late 2017, she is not new to healthcare or technology, having held several leadership roles in marketing, communications and partner/customer experience in healthcare operational management and business management software and technology companies over the past 30 years.

Everything You Need to Know About Last Week’s Congressional Hearings on HSAs

Everything You Need to Know About Last Week’s Congressional Hearings on HSAs

06/14/2018

by Chris Byrd

 

Last week, two separate congressional committees convened to explore how consumer-directed healthcare plans (CDHPs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), when paired with health savings accounts (HSAs), can make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Americans. American consumers have established more than 22 million HSAs, a figure that has grown steadily in recent years and is expected to reach 27.5 million by 2019.

 

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means health subcommittee held a Capitol Hill hearing on the role of CDHPs in expanding access to healthcare, lowering healthcare costs and increasing the number of choices available to consumers. The hearing addressed everything from trends in HSA enrollment to policies that would give more consumers access to tax-advantaged savings accounts.

 

It began with a testimony by Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam, who said, “Healthcare reform should empower individuals and families to make decisions for themselves based on what fits their needs and budget. One of the best tools we have to accomplish this goal is consumer-directed health plans that are paired with HSAs. These plans offer lower premiums and a higher deductible to encourage better use of healthcare services. Engaging consumers in their healthcare spending is critical to reining in our system’s ever-increasing costs.”

 

Other experts who spoke at the hearing include Roy Ramthun, president of HSA Consulting Services; Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP); Jody Dietel, chief compliance officer for WageWorks; and Sherry Glied, dean of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

 

The following day, the Joint Economic Committee also met to discuss the potential for HSAs to engage patients and bend the healthcare cost curve. Including members of both the House and the Senate, the committee reviews economic conditions and recommends improvements in economic policy. Among those who spoke at its most recent hearing, Kevin McKechnie of the HSA Council, Tracy Watts of Mercer and the American Benefits Counsel and Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution explored statistics on the adoption and usage of HSAs, their effect on healthcare expenditures and both the short and long-term effects of greater adoption of CDHPs and HDHPs/HSAs respectively.

 

Dr. Atlas concluded his testimony with this call to action: “Expanded, liberalized and transferable HSAs represent a key instrument in an overall strategy of broadening access to affordable, high quality healthcare for everyone. If appropriately designed, HSAs represent a strong incentive to consider price and value for those seeking medical care. HSAs offer more effective incentives than tax deductions for health expenses. HSAs have been proven to reduce the cost of medical care for individuals, and also to improve health by increasing the use of validated wellness programs. While expanded HSAs alone are not necessarily a panacea, they are a critically important and effective step.”

 

At the crux of both hearings last week was the assertion that as CDHPs become of increasing importance to Americans, more legislation is needed to make them even more beneficial to consumers; this would require numerous amendments to the tax code.  According to McKechnie “These ideas are vetted, bipartisan, and affordable. Some would actually save taxpayer money. Individually and together, they can dramatically strengthen the proven, successful HSA model.”

 

The House Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing, which streamed live on the web, can be viewed in full below.

 

 
The Joint Economic Committee’s hearing on HSAs can also be viewed in full below:

 

Health savings accounts in many ways offer something for everyone. To learn more about their advantages, read our blog post here.

 


Chris Byrd

Executive Vice President, WEX Health Operations & Corporate Development Officer

Chris Byrd brings more than 25 years of experience in employee benefits and banking to his role at WEX Health. A founder of Evolution Benefits in 2000, Chris played a key role in designing the proprietary architecture for the company’s prepaid benefits card.

Chris oversees the daily execution of WEX Health’s business and leads the company’s operations and service delivery, corporate development, merger and acquisition activity, and legal, industry, and government relations efforts.

He began his career in commercial banking, and prior to 2000, he focused on finance, strategy, and business development for Value Health and two start-up healthcare companies. He joined WEX Health in July 2014.

Chris, who serves on numerous industry boards, is a frequent speaker on emerging trends in financial services and benefits and is active in industry and government relations. He earned a degree in economics from Brown University.  


Observations from CFSI EMERGE Day 1: The Health-Wealth Connection

06/08/2018

by Tracy Faleide

 

I’m reporting from sunny Los Angeles, where the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s big annual conference, CFSI EMERGE, has convened more than 800 finhealth leaders and innovators across sectors to explore financial health. This is WEX Health’s first time at EMERGE, and I’m in full-on learning mode here and loving CFSI’s mission to support day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity for Americans, in particular the unbanked and the underbanked. CFSI believes that finance can be a force for good in people’s lives, and that serving the needs of consumers responsibly is ultimately more profitable for the financial services industry—values that resonate with WEX Health, too.

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5 Surprising Things You Can Use Your HSA to Pay for This Summer

5 Surprising Things You Can Use Your HSA to Pay for This Summer

06/01/2018

 

With open enrollment many months behind us, few people think much about their health savings account (HSA) during the summer. But now is a great time to take a fresh look at which expenses these accounts can cover, as you can use an HSA to pay for many of your summer essentials—and not all of them are obvious.

 

The IRS defines medical expenses as “the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation,

treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body.” As you gear up for summer travels, remember that these things are considered HSA-eligible products and services:

 

  1. Sunscreen: You can buy thousands of over-the-counter products with your HSA, and one of them is sunscreen/sunblock, so lather it on. Lip balm with an SPF of 15+ is also covered.

 

  1. Prescription Sunglasses: You likely already know that contacts and prescription eyeglasses are a qualified medical expense, but you may not have realized that this also includes prescription sunnies needed for medical reasons.

 

  1. Allergy Testing: All those summer blooms can wreak havoc on your sinuses; feel free to use your HSA to test for allergies to pollen, ragweed or anything else.

 

  1. Band-Aids: Your boo-boos are all covered under your HSA this summer—whether you’re in the market for bandages or Band-Aids, gauze or first aid kits.

 

  1. Medical care outside the U.S.: Worst case scenario, you’re out of the country on a vacation and require medical care. You can use your HSA to pay for treatment in a foreign country as well as any prescribed drug you purchase and consume in another country if the drug is legal in both the other country and the U.S. Further, you can include amounts you pay for transportation to another city if a trip is primarily for, and essential to, receiving medical services. You can also include lodging for the person traveling with the person receiving medical care. However, you can’t include in medical expenses a trip or vacation taken merely for a change in environment, improvement of morale or general improvement of health, even if the trip is made on the advice of a doctor.

 

Things not eligible for HSA coverage: summer camps (even for dependents incapable of self-care), and dancing or swimming lessons (even if they are recommended by a doctor). For the IRS’s full list of qualified medical expenses, visit their website here.

 

Did you know most consumers are enrolling in HSAs to save for their future healthcare needs? Read findings from our new 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report here.