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Essential elements to consider when choosing an HSA administrator

The administrator's business goals, the amount of education offered and access allowed, are all factors to take into account.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Choosing a health savings account administrator isn't a decision that should be taken lightly. There are numerous factors to be taken into consideration to ensure the right fit.

HSAs allow employees to save money for medical expenses, now and in retirement, and anyone enrolled in a high-deductible plan can qualify for one.

HSA administration company Clarify said there are five essential elements to consider.

IMPACT

The first thing to consider is the administrator's business goals. It's important to choose an HSA administrator that aligns with the company's mission and objectives. If both parties aren't on the same page, it can have a negative impact on both company brand and employee satisfaction.

It's also important to take into account the amount of education the administrator offers. An HSA administrator should make employee education a top priority, so each employee is able to make the best decision possible for his or her situation and maximize those benefits.

To that end, an effective administrator should offer engaging information in several formats, such as print, internet and social media, and provide updates to this information throughout the year.

Another factor to consider: the account access the administrator allows. An effective HSA administrator will utilize an online platform with decision support tools to make the enrollment process seamless, and allow employees 24/7 access at their convenience.

An administrator offering such a platform can help guarantee that claims flow seamlessly between accounts, even when circumstances change over the years. Plus, employees will want to access their funds with familiar, convenient methods, such as debit cards. A robust mobile application will also result in a positive employee experience.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

Two more things to keep in mind:

One is the level of support the administrator provides. Once employees have been presented benefits information, they are sure to have a lot of questions. An HSA administrator shouldn't just be prepared to answer those questions, but also provide to-notch customer service and account management. Again, the more knowledge employees have about their accounts and their potential, the more satisfied they'll be.

And then there's the account diversity the administrator presents. Since HSA accounts are not one-size-fits-all and typically fall into the spenders, savers and investors categories, an HSA administrator should offer an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing cash account -- along with an integrated HSA investment account option -- to meet all employee needs.

THE TREND

HSAs have been touted as a strategy for healthcare organizations to better control rising costs.

Though companies expect a slight upswing in healthcare cost increases over the next two years or so, cost trends remain at or below 5 percent after plan changes, found an October survey. This is due, in part, to the maturing of account-based health plans, a strategy that combines a group health insurance plan with an employee flexible spending account or health savings account.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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