Category:
Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

There’s a New Way to Test Americans’ Financial Health and It’s the Most Comprehensive Yet

11/26/2018

by Chris Byrd

 

Our friends at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) have been contributing incredible work to the cause of both understanding and improving the financial health of Americans. Now, in new groundbreaking research on the financial lives of Americans, they explore this critically important issue more deeply than ever before. The report, called the U.S. Financial Health Pulse, argues that though facts are readily available on how millions of Americans are struggling with everything from credit card debit to student loans to insufficient retirement savings, it’s not enough to look at these individual markers to measure their financial health.

 

Instead, CFSI recommends looking at a bigger picture that considers the totality of an individual’s financial life: “Unlike abstract figures like GDP, financial health is a nuanced metric that assesses whether Americans are spending, saving, borrowing and planning in a way that will set them up to be resilient and pursue opportunities over time.” To assess financial health, CFSI has created a framework called the CFSI Financial Health Score that leverages consumer surveys and transactional data for demographic characteristics, financial behaviors and socioeconomic trends. The score sorts Americans into three financial health tiers: Financially Healthy (28 percent of Americans); Financially Coping (55 percent of Americans); and Financially Vulnerable (17 percent of Americans).

 

The entire report is worth a close read, but we pulled out some kernels that we think are the most relevant for WEX Health Partners:

 

Nearly half of Americans say their spending equaled or exceeded their income in the last 12 months.

 

Among respondents who said this, 43 percent said it’s because their spending was unusually high, their income was unusually low, or both. We know from other research that unplanned medical expenses are a leading cause; this squares with what 20 percent of the consumers (across the socioeconomic spectrum) who participated in our Clear Insights report earlier this year told us—that they would have to put a $1,000 unexpected medical bill on their credit card.

 

Low savings balances obscure the fact that many Americans are saving when and where they can.

 

CFSI points out that 79 percent of respondents said they are saving regularly or whenever possible in savings accounts, while 76 percent said are saving regularly or whenever possible in cash. Further, 70 percent of respondents said they are saving regularly or whenever possible in personal savings vehicles like mutual funds, money market accounts, stocks, certificates of deposit and annuities. Financially Healthy individuals reported liquid savings balances approximately four times higher than Financially Coping individuals and 30 times higher than Financially Vulnerable individuals. While many Americans lack sufficient liquid savings, it’s interesting and encouraging to learn that a full 28 percent of Americans (those in the Financially Healthy category) have money to save into tax-favored accounts that can be carried over and invested—i.e., health savings accounts (HSAs).

 

Forty-two percent of Financially Vulnerable individuals said debt has delayed or prevented them from seeking or receiving medical care.

 

With respect to the effect of health insurance on these decisions, 71 percent of Financially Vulnerable individuals and 88 percent of Financially Coping individuals have health insurance, compared with 98 percent of Financially Healthy individuals. This is key, as it shows the value of what many of us do to provide employees with an increasingly greater number of options that help employers balance and manage costs while providing safety-net coverage for employees.

 

Americans who experience workplace instability are falling behind as they strive for financial health.

 

Employees who have unpredictable schedules and volatile wages are less likely to be Financially Healthy than those who have predictable schedules and steady wages. Lower-income Americans are most affected by instability in the workplace; this group also stands to gain the most from employee-provided benefits, such as healthcare and paid leave. In so many ways, this underscores the importance of our work at WEX Health to deliver products that help minimize the volatility of unexpected healthcare spending on overall financial challenges.

 

For more insights on Americans’ financial health, read CFSI’s U.S. Financial Health Pulse in full 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.  


4 Tips for Women Managing Their Family’s Healthcare Costs

11/20/2018

by Lisa Goldkamp

 

It’s safe to say that, in 2018, more women are tuned in and standing up to try to make a difference in healthcare and beyond. On the heels of a U.S. midterm election where a historic number of women ran for office and won and where healthcare was the top issue for voters (per exit polls), all signs point to women taking an active role on issues that are not only important to their family’s financial and physical health, but to the healthcare issues that impact our country.

As the primary coordinator of healthcare for my family, I understand why this issue is on the minds of Americans. What I didn’t realize was that healthcare expenses are disproportionately weighing on women. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey earlier this year found that mothers are considerably more likely to manage their children’s health than fathers, and our own 2018 Clear Insights report found that women are more concerned than men about unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs as well as family finances overall. I always assumed that my interest in our family’s healthcare coverage and in ensuring we have available funds in our HSA account to pay our medical bills was uniquely related to my career experiences, not my gender.

In light of this and since we’re now actively in open enrollment, and the cost of healthcare is on everybody’s mind, I have a few tips to share with other women who are also managing or influencing their family’s healthcare decisions.

 

1. Give yourself plenty of time to evaluate the benefits plans your employer offers.

It’s very likely that your employer is offering at least one plan that would save you money on taxes by allowing you to pay for healthcare with pre-tax expenses. During open enrollment, we’ve found that 75 percent of consumers spend less than an hour evaluating their employer’s different healthcare options, but I recommend that you take all the time you need (likely more than an hour) to do your research on what’s best for your family in the year ahead.

 

2. Be realistic about what your family’s upcoming healthcare needs are.

It’s easy to want to just look away from medical expenses that are on the horizon, but oftentimes we do have some advance idea of what’s coming. A couple of years ago, I knew that both I and one of my children needed a surgery, and was comforted by the fact that the funds we’d been accruing in our health savings account (HSA) were there to cover both surgeries. For that reason, our family didn’t have to feel the pain of these two substantial medical expenses—to the extent where my husband didn’t even realize, until I let him know, that we had spent thousands of dollars out of pocket on the surgeries. It’s important to estimate what you know, or suspect, your family might realistically spend on medical bills in 2019, and arm yourself with that info as you’re selecting a plan during open enrollment.

 

3. Leverage accounts that set aside money incrementally so you don’t have to grapple with a big medical expense all at once.

Women are significantly more likely than men (43 percent vs. 20 percent) to use their HSA account to pay unexpected healthcare bills greater than $1,000, according to the Clear Insights survey. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to put unexpected medical bills on a credit card, indicating that more women have already realized the value of an HSA for setting away and accumulating money in smaller chunks so that they’re fully prepared when larger expenses arrive. HSAs are also valuable because the funds roll over indefinitely from year to year, so that you can either use them for immediate healthcare expenses or even on into retirement.

 

4. Imagine having to choose low cost over the best care for your family.

My kids are avid consumers of healthcare, and last month my three-year-old took a dive into the corner of our bedframe and was bleeding profusely from a gash in his forehead. Because our HSA funds had been quietly accumulating and were there when we needed them, I was able to take a moment in the midst of the chaos to decide whether we should take him to an urgent care facility, where the cost would be less but the quality of care might also be less, or to the children’s emergency room I knew and trusted. Since it was a facial laceration, I wanted to be sure he got stitches from someone highly experienced treating small (and adorable) faces. Fortunately, based on the cushion we’d built up, I was able to make a conscious decision to take him to the ER and I didn’t have to have to panic about how are we going to be able to afford this? Instead, I was able to focus on my son.

 

At WEX Health, we’re proud to see women take an active role in the issues and concerns related to healthcare at home and in public policy, and we’re excited to have a role in solutions that can assist families with their unique needs. We encourage women to seize this moment, during open enrollment, to ensure that you’re taking advantage of the spending accounts that can help save you money and give you peace of mind you need to keep on making the best decisions for yourself and your family in 2019.

 


Lisa Goldkamp

Lisa Goldkamp

Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions at WEX Health

As the Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions, Lisa leads the Pre-sales Enablement and Partner Development teams. Lisa strives to ensure every Partner, whether sales distribution or administrative, has the tools to succeed and grow their business through their partnership with WEX Health. Lisa and her team members consult with prospective and current partners as deep technology and solutions experts regarding how the WEX Health offerings match up with their specific needs. Since joining our team in 2005, Lisa has worked with hundreds of partners as they have evaluated our solutions. She is a passionate member of our community who frequently presents at industry events and has used her technology and healthcare expertise to help WEX Health and our partners optimize their growth potential.

Prior to joining WEX Health, Lisa was a sales executive for a national IT training company, which is where she developed a passion for utilizing technology to solve problems and create new business opportunities.

6 Best Practices for Engaging Employers and Members with CDHP Plans

10/26/2018

by guest blogger Kathy Anderson, senior manager CDHP operations, HealthPartners

 

I recently worked with Jeff Bakke, WEX Health’s chief strategy officer, to cohost an America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) webinar on consumer-directed healthcare plans (CDHPs) and how they can be used to improve employer partnership and member engagement. In addition to sharing the full webinar with WEX Health Partners (access it here), I’m highlighting some of the best practices that Jeff and I have come across in our work at our respective companies.

 

As uncertain out-of-pocket expenses and rising deductibles combine to put financial strain on more Americans, Jeff and I have both become passionate about the role that CDHPs can play in reducing financial stress and empowering employees to successfully manage their healthcare expenses. But first the challenge is to educate both employers and employees about the plans and to engage them with the accounts before and after open enrollment. Here are six of the chief learnings that Jeff and I shared in our webinar about maximizing engagement with CDHPs:

 

  1. Get involved as early as possible with a new employer. Getting on the same page with an employer is a must. If possible, review their existing plan documentation early on, and gain an understanding of their employee populations and how to best reach them. Not only will this inform your recommendations going forward, but it will allow you to inject account-based plans into the conversation from the beginning.

 

  1. Don’t overwhelm employees with information during open enrollment. Instead, give them the personalized experiences and communications they need when they need it. People can consume only what’s relatable to them in the present. Consider how you can deliver individual employee guided tours, and when certain tips and resources will be best received. Learn more about what consumers care about during open enrollment.

 

  1. Maintain personal touches with employees post-enrollment. Look for ways to continue to create in-person touchpoints with employees, whether with an outreach call after they experience their first medical claim with an HRA account or by hosting a brown-bag session where employees can have their individual questions about their CDHP answered. Here are some more examples of effective uses of personalization in healthcare benefits.

 

  1. When person-to-person isn’t feasible, email is the next best way to communicate. Some employees prefer paper, depending on industry and demographics, but overall, email is the preferred method for employees to receive information about their CDHP accounts. We’ve also learned that, for quick updates, people prefer text messages or automated notifications—e.g., “Your HSA available cash balance is below $250.00.”

 

  1. Help employees track and measure their healthcare goals online. Beyond just working with employees to establish an HSA or HRA savings goal at open enrollment, it’s important to provide tools for employees to be able to measure and track their progress toward that goal and to make changes as needed. Learn more about consumer-driven health and mobile technology.

 

  1. Give employees ongoing access to online tools and resources. Employees need to be able to have their account information at their fingertips when they want it. Dashboard views can give employees a consolidated snapshot of their experience and how their plan is working. People generally don’t spend a lot of time making decisions about their healthcare benefits, but if we can give them the data in an easy-to-use, accessible way, they’re more inclined to make better decisions as they move forward with their plans.

 

We invite you to watch our webinar in full here. And learn more about how personalizing is a key strategy for simplifying the business of healthcare.

 


Kathy Anderson

Senior Manager, CDHP Operations at HealthPartners

At HealthPartners, Kathy Anderson oversees the successful implementation of all Health Reimbursement Account and Flexible Spending Account plans. She partners with Sales to build and maintain strong client relationships and manages the daily administration of these products. She was also the Business Project Manager for the implementation of the WEX Health platform in 2016.

Prior to joining HealthPartners in 2001, Kathy worked as Manager of Health Plan Accounting at United Health Group and was an auditor at KPMG. Mrs. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Accounting from Drake University.


Trump Administration Proposes Plan for Employers to Use HRAs to Pay for Premiums

10/23/2018

by Chris Byrd

 

The Trump administration proposed a new regulation this morning that would expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), giving employers of all sizes additional flexibility to provide greater choice to their employees. The proposed regulations issued by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, allow employers to offer HRAs for reimbursement of individual health insurance premiums. In addition, employers who offer group health insurance would be able to offer HRAs of up to $1,800 (indexed for inflation) to reimburse certain excepted benefits, such as standalone dental benefits and premiums for a short-term health insurance plan.

 

HRAs are employer-funded plans that reimburse employees for medical expenses not covered by company-sponsored insurance, but the Obama administration had forbidden the use of them to pay for premiums on the individual market.

 

Building on President Trump’s executive order from October 2017, which called for expanded availability and permitted use of HRAs, the newly proposed rule would seek to “expand opportunities for working men and women and their families to access affordable, quality healthcare” through changes to regulations under various provisions of the Public Health Service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code.

 

The proposed regulations will be open for comment for 60 days from the date of publication. The proposed effective date is for plans beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

 

At a high level, the proposed regulations build on the Qualified Small Employer HRAs (QSEHRAs) that were created by the 20th Century Cures Act in 2016. QSEHRAs allow small employers (1-49 employees) to offer HRAs to reimburse individual insurance premiums and/or out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. The proposed regulations expand the use of HRAs for premiums to all employers, regardless of size.

 

Whether this will lead mid-sized and large employers to get out of the business of offering group health insurance remains to be seen and will depend in large part on such factors as relative costs in the individual and group markets (current big advantage to group health) and tax advantages associated with the employee-paid portion of group health premiums.

 

Another possible trend would be for employers to offer the HRA as an option on a menu alongside group health, so that the employee has a wider choice of insurance plans and, for lower-income workers, access to subsidies on the public exchanges.

 

The excepted-benefit HRA represents a new product that provides employers with another way to provide benefits beyond traditional health insurance. Keep in mind that, to offer this HRA, the employer must also offer group health insurance.

 

One thing is certain: The proposed regulations open up new product opportunities for administrators to provide to employers, and they would benefit those employers by enabling them to offer a wider choice of benefit options to their employees. This is consistent with other recent moves by the current administration, such as the expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

 

WEX Health will be studying the regulations carefully, commenting on them to regulators, working with our colleagues in the industry and making any platform changes required to accommodate these new and expanded products.

 

Learn more about HRAs on our blog, and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest changes impacting consumer-directed healthcare in the United States.

 


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.  


The Impact of Sleep on Productivity—and Other Health-Wealth Considerations Employers Need to Know

The Impact of Sleep on Productivity—and Other Health-Wealth Considerations Employers Need to Know

09/26/2018

by Phil Kading

#HRTechConf

 

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos tries to get at least eight hours of sleep a night because it helps him make far better decisions, while Elon Musk’s reported 120-hour workweek is taking a toll on his health and on the soundness of his business decisions. The respective sleeping habits of these two prominent leaders is something I heard referenced several times earlier this month at the 2018 Human Resource Executive Technology Conference & Exposition (HR Tech). This got me thinking about how, early in my career, working an all-nighter meant you put in super long hours to meet a deadline. It also meant you moved up a few notches on your company’s unofficial respect ranking. But today, an all-nighter means sleeping for at least eight hours so you can be your best self. Alas, most Americans get only 6.9 hours on a typical work night.

Where is all this talk of sleep (or the lack thereof) coming from? Its growing place in conversations among HR professionals has everything to do with the industry’s focus on holistic employee wellness, with many HR Tech sessions and conversations centering on the “health-wealth connection” and how employers can use technology—and even highly lo-fi solutions such as allowing your employees to nap on the job—to build wellness in both areas.

In a Thursday morning keynote, speakers Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Jennifer Morgan of SAP shared that roughly 70 percent of U.S. employees feel burned out.

With nearly 8 of 10 companies identifying stress as a top workforce health risk, there is widespread recognition that something needs to change. There’s where technology comes into play. Companies are looking for technology to help their leaders and employees make better decisions and lifestyle choices.

 

Here are four more top wellness-related technology solutions that companies today are considering:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to enhance decision-making and self-service. Because the low unemployment rate is making it more difficult to recruit the best talent, companies are looking to AI to apply advanced logic to find and screen potential candidates based on role-specific criteria.

Companies are stretching the definition of talent management to include ongoing talent engagement. Knowing that healthy employees are more likely to be productive and innovative contributors, companies are seeking technology solutions that help keep employees engaged from recruitment through performance management and beyond.

Leading players in payroll/professional employer organizations are moving into the human capital management space by expanding their offerings beyond payroll. Companies like Paychex and Paylocity are adding functionality in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment and engagement.

More employers see HSAs as a “health and wealth” planning and savings tool for employees. Embedded in the many sessions and conversations about the evolving landscape of employee benefits were examples of the ways tax-free HSA dollars help employees save on healthcare costs while easing anxieties surrounding planning for out-of-pocket and unexpected medical costs. Several speakers and solution providers at HR Tech made the connection between reducing worries over financial challenges and thriving talent engagement programs.

 

For the many employer Partners WEX Health serves, I see these trends further emphasizing the importance of having deep, data-driven insight about their employees. Then comes the part where employers have to put those insights to use to deliver flexible and innovative benefit plans that encourage wellness, deeper levels of engagement and more “all-nighters” of worry-free sleep.

Want to learn more about Americans’ financial wellness? Read our posts about how excessive healthcare costs are reducing retirement contributions and how more than half of employers now offer HSAs to help with recruitment and retention.

 


Phil Kading WEX Health

Phil Kading

Senior Director, Strategic Business Development at WEX Health

Phil leads the Business Development Team in driving enterprise business development campaigns and strategic partnerships that deliver innovative and incremental growth of consumer driven health solutions.  Phil has over 15 years’ experience in the healthcare and IT arenas spanning multiple sales, marketing and business development leadership roles.  Prior to his tenure at WEX Health, Phil spent 10 plus years at UnitedHealth Group where he had progressively enhanced leadership roles focused in commercial health insurance, wellness and data analytics highlighted by running client engagement for Optum Health’s Innovation Lab.  In addition, Phil spent 2 years in health insurance and pharmacy benefit management consulting delivering analytical consultation to large employers. Phil received his BA in Business Administration- Human Resource Management and his MBA in Finance from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.


Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

Get Inside Their Heads: What Consumers Care About During Open Enrollment

09/25/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

Americans are frustrated with the cost and complexity of health care. And since employers provide health insurance coverage for the majority of the population (roughly 56 percent of Americans), disenchanted consumers are increasingly looking to their employers for help managing health care expenses and weighing their benefits options. In turn, employers are calling on benefit brokers to help educate their employees and to supply tools to engage them with their benefits. The ultimate goal: to empower employees to make smarter health care decisions.

To enhance your approach with trusted clients and forge relationships with new employer groups, it’s helpful to begin with an understanding of what their employees value most and are most concerned with today. Here are four insights to guide you as we move into open enrollment season:

 

1)   Employees enroll in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for future needs.

In 2018, WEX Health surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance. Among the most interesting of the findings, published in the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report: Even though more than three-quarters of those who participate in HDHPs think that managing their health care spending account helps them make smarter health decisions, there’s still a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. In fact, although survey participants primarily intend to use health savings accounts (HSAs) as a savings vehicle, many aren’t aware of their full savings potential and aren’t aware that they can invest their HSA funds in stocks, mutual funds and other investment vehicles. During open enrollment this year, it’s important to not only educate employees on the benefits of engaging with their HSA but to provide tips and tricks on how to make the most out of it.

 

2)   Employees’ satisfaction with benefits can be enhanced through personalized experiences.

By tailoring educational tools and experiences to employees’ specific needs, brokers and employers are better able to make every minute with employees count. The Vitals for Change Scorecard, a guide for employers from Mercer and Catalyst for Payment Reform, found that one-third of senior leaders are now making efforts to understand what their different workforce segments or demographic groups value in terms of benefits, programs and policies. Understanding the employee population and working closely with employers to tailor benefits design can lead to more employees enrolled in programs that fit their needs, ultimately leading to better satisfaction.

 

3)   They prefer online and mobile tools for education and engagement.

Most senior leaders believe that programs encouraging employee engagement with health and well-being are an important means of achieving their overall HR and business objectives, according to the Vitals for Change Scorecard. But what’s the best way to engage employees, especially when they’re inundated daily with information from several sources and devices? Knowing which online and mobile tools and resources work best for different groups of employees can make a big difference in the effectiveness of education and engagement programs. When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful, employees who participated in the WEX Health survey ranked highest those personalized online tools that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings. In particular, employees say they need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and to put in their HDHP account. Post-enrollment, providing personalized messaging can help employees stick to their savings goals.

 

4) But don’t disregard the value of an in-person presentation or consultation.

While it may be tempting to discard all of the more traditional ways of relaying benefits information to employees, it’s important to recognize the diverse settings and needs of employee populations and to consider those factors when delivering educational content. If, for example, you’re delivering a benefits presentation in an industrial setting like a manufacturing plant floor versus in a large auditorium, some of the “old-school” methods and tools—i.e., handouts and discussion—remain the most helpful. And in the WEX Health survey, respondents selected fact sheets as the most useful of all educational resources. In-person presentations during which employees can get immediate answers from human resources and benefits administration representatives also ranked high, with more passive videos and webinars ranking lower.

 

Armed with this information, benefits administrators and brokers can help employers develop personalized engagement strategies that will result in higher plan satisfaction, retention and overall increased revenue—beginning with open enrollment education and lasting throughout the year.

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

Angela Greenhalgh has over 25 years working in health care and supporting the needs of employers, health plans, consumers, and members. She has been with WEX Health for almost 2 years where she focuses on educating and nurturing relationships with brokers and consultants. Previously, Angela spent nearly 9 years at Truven Health Analytics (now part of IBM Watson Health) where she worked to solve the data analytic, consumer engagement, and data warehousing needs of those same constituents. Her varied positions and collaborations with many brokers and consultants has fostered an understanding of the powerful role trusted confidants and relationship building plays when assisting employers with their benefits designs.


WEX Health 5 Back-to-School Expenses You Can Cover with Your HSA, HRA or FSA

5 Back-to-School Expenses You Can Cover with Your HSA, HRA or FSA

08/29/2018

 

What do reading, writing and arithmetic have to do with your consumer-directed health (CDH) account? You may not know that you can use the funds you’ve been squirreling away in your health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to cover some of the back-to-school expenses that hit all at once this time of year. To mitigate those costs, here are five things you can use your CDH account to pay for now:

 

  1. Vaccinations: Need to get up to date on immunizations before school starts? They’re eligible for reimbursement with an FSA, HSA or HRA. And when flu season follows, don’t forget you can also use your CDH account for your annual flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccination each year to build up an immunity to the virus prior to flu season.

 

  1. School and sports physical exams: You can take care of this standard checkup with the funds you’ve saved into your FSA, HSA or HRA. For children heading back to school or onto a sports field, these annual exams are necessary to assess their physical well-being, build their medical history and gather the necessary paperwork to ensure that they’re up to date on state-required vaccines.

 

  1. Eye exams and corrective eyewear: Speaking of physicals, your child’s physician will likely check their eyesight during their physical. But should he or she need the services of an optometrist or ophthalmologist, you can also turn to your CDH account to cover the cost of both the eye exam and any corrective eyewear, including prescription glasses and contacts.

 

  1. Certain medical and orthopedic supplies: With back-to-school germs and boo-boos (acquired both on playgrounds and sports fields) on the horizon, you’ll be happy to know that you can use your FSA, HSA or HRA to stock up ahead of time on things like bandages, children’s pain relievers, first-aid kits, lice treatments and thermometers. Likewise, certain orthopedic supplies for student athletes are also eligible for reimbursement, including ankle, knee and back braces/wraps, athletic tape and arch supports.

 

  1. Acne treatments: The most common skin condition in the U.S., acne is extremely prevalent in pre-teens and teenagers especially. Eighty-five percent of people ages 12 to 24 experience at least mild acne. Acne is considered a disease, so the cost of treating it, whether with OTC meds, topical prescriptions, antibiotics or other medicines, qualifies as an eligible expense for CDH account holders.

 

With the number of active high-deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs) on the rise, CDH accounts are also becoming far more common, as consumers look for ways to take more financial responsibility for their healthcare expenses. This makes it more important than ever to educate consumers about their HSA, HRA or FSA and what expenses can be covered by these accounts.

 

Have questions about health savings accounts? We have answers to the most common questions about these tax-advantaged savings vehicles.

Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

Brokers, Look for an HSA Provider Who Does These 4 Things

08/14/2018

by Angela Greenhalgh

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com

 

When securing new employer group clients, a strong HSA vendor can be one of a broker’s greatest allies. Not only can the right vendor make the job easier for both you and the employer, but it can further your reputation, leading to retention and more revenue. The ideal HSA vendor should provide expertise that complements your own in the following ways:

 

They know how to empower employers to help employees make better healthcare decisions.

The 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, which surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers with employer-provided health insurance, found that most consumers with consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) plans need help figuring out how much money to set aside to cover deductibles and help with managing their doctor bills. Keeping consumers’ limited health literacy in mind, your HSA vendor should have a tight grasp on these and other employee pain points and have a plan to educate employer groups in ways that allow them to influence the desired action during open enrollment and beyond. This includes providing employers with consumer-facing education pieces, tools and continued support to ensure that employees understand how to manage their accounts outside of the open enrollment season. There are now platforms and apps, for example, that allow employees to scan a product bar code to instantly determine whether an expense will be covered by their HSA and online dashboards that show employees their spending trends year-over-year, by expense type and even by family member.

 

They understand the power of personalized employee engagement.

When asked to select all the tools and resources they would find most helpful to become educated about their healthcare plan options, consumers ranked highest those that compare plans, estimate costs and calculate savings—all tools that yield personalized results. Deloitte’s 2017 survey of U.S. healthcare consumers corroborates this, finding that personalization—including clear communication and sensitivity—was rated as respondents’ top healthcare priority. To grab and hold employees’ attention and drive desired behaviors, your HSA vendor should offer numerous ways for you to customize messaging, allowing employer groups to send data-driven communications directly to employee populations.

 

They bring one integrated platform to the table. 

Your CDH vendor should provide an intuitive technology platform that removes the complexity of managing multiple accounts, allowing employer groups to manage numerous plans and products seamlessly as well as to customize plans and portal designs. This will lessen the administrative burden on both you and the employer group, which helps to save on time and costs, not to mention resulting in less confusion for employees. Look for a platform’s integrated capabilities to include claims and EDI feeds, payroll, claim reimbursement invoices and automatic investment allocation.

 

Their reputation precedes them.

You should ask a lot of your HSA vendor: They should make the entire enrollment process seamless for your employer groups and their employees, increasing engagement and ultimately enrollment. But that’s not all. Vendors must also be known for their ability to pair up complex CDH account strategies that will satisfy the needs of employees while helping to control costs for the employer (such as pairing an HSA with a limited-purpose FSA). The best vendor will also continuously monitor—and demonstrate thought leadership on—industry trends and technology advancements. This will ensure that your clients receive top-tier services and are properly informed about any trends that could affect their benefits plan designs.

As a broker, you’re well-aware how relationship-based this market is. To reinforce your important relationships with employer groups, partner only with the best-of-the-best CDH vendors.

 

Want more? Download the Clear Insights Report here.

 


Angela Greenhalgh

Angela Greenhalgh

Vice President of Vertical Sales at WEX Health

Angela Greenhalgh has over 25 years working in health care and supporting the needs of employers, health plans, consumers, and members. She has been with WEX Health for almost 2 years where she focuses on educating and nurturing relationships with brokers and consultants. Previously, Angela spent nearly 9 years at Truven Health Analytics (now part of IBM Watson Health) where she worked to solve the data analytic, consumer engagement, and data warehousing needs of those same constituents. Her varied positions and collaborations with many brokers and consultants has fostered an understanding of the powerful role trusted confidants and relationship building plays when assisting employers with their benefits designs.


Must-Listen Podcast: Opportunities for Banks in the HSA Market

Must-Listen Podcast: How Consumers View and Engage With Their Healthcare Benefits

08/08/2018

 

Jeff Bakke, Chief Strategy Officer at WEX Health, is a featured guest on Besler’s Hospital Finance Podcast. He discusses the findings of the WEX Health Clear Insights Report which looks at how consumers view and engage with their healthcare benefits.

We invite you to take a listen:

 

Visit the full blog post here

How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

Survey Says: How Today’s Financial Advisors Are Viewing and Thinking About HSAs

07/26/2018

by Helene Cole

 

The results are in, and the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA)’s survey of more than 500 retirement plan advisors has yielded some insights that we think our WEX Health Partners will find illuminating. Of particular interest were the findings about how advisors are viewing and thinking about health savings accounts (HSAs) in terms of retirement and financial planning.

The inaugural NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider survey was sent to financial advisors after NAPA’s annual summit, the largest gathering of retirement plan advisors in the nation, this past spring.

Among the key findings relevant to our Partners:

  • Fifty-six percent of financial advisors said they would like more information about HSAs—in the form of white papers, email newsletters, online articles and webinars—more so than any other topic.
  • Client Retention was the most important issue raised by the advisors with 57% advisors rating it either “very important” or “important”. Concerns about fee compression followed closely behind client retention, and fiduciary regulation came in as the third biggest concern. WEX Health Partner benchmarks show that offering more than one account or plan increases client retention by more than 40%.
  • The advisors’ second most common challenge when it comes to HSAs? Finding trusted HSA administrator partners for their clients, cited by more than a third (36 percent) of advisor respondents.
  • Advisors also reported issues understanding HSA compliance regulations, complaints about “low investment opportunity and potential” and concern regarding consumers’ ability to save healthcare dollars. WEX Health and its network of Partners work hard to develop tools and technology to help employees better understand and use their healthcare benefits to save costs and ease the burden of healthcare. HSAs are the cutting edge way to not only save for the unexpected costs of healthcare – but also help you save for retirement as well.

 

Sponsored by WEX Health, the NAPA 401(k) Summit Insider report correlated financial advisors’ increased interest in HSAs to growing concerns about the cost of healthcare in retirement. The report cites Fidelity’s Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, which said that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 will need an estimated $275,000 to cover healthcare costs in retirement, up from an estimated $245,000 in 2015.

Have questions about health savings accounts? We have answers; review our FAQ here.

 


Helene Cole WEX Health

Helene Cole

Vice President, Financial Institution Market at WEX Health

Helene has been focused on helping partners and clients meet their goals for her entire career.  Most recently she has been at WEX Health, driving strategy and partner relationship for our Financial Institutions Partners. Our goal is to ensure our platform enables our partners to best solve their clients healthcare challenges while also facilitating the merger of health and wealth. Focus is on how best to create unique account offerings (HSA, HRA, FSA) for each of our partners to support growth, strengthen client relationships and create new opportunities for cross-selling and relationship building.