Motivating health savings account funding
Duke, Anne Catherine Spencer
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A health savings account (HSA) may be opened and used by enrollees in statutorily-defined high-deductible health insurance plans. Even though personal HSA contributions are likely to reduce an enrollee’s federal tax burden and provide funds to pay medical coverage deductibles, the average level of HSA contributions has been remarkably low. The purpose of the current study was to identify factors that might motivate high-deductible plan enrollees to increase their personal HSA contributions. Several factors were examined: (a) an employer offering a cash reward when an enrollee increases his or her HSA balance, (b) an employer offering a matching contribution, (c) exposing enrollees to education, via digital media, about the benefits of making HSA contributions, and (d) exposing enrollees to an Enhanced Active Choice to participate that highlights the losses incumbent in the non-preferred alternative. To test the hypotheses, a scenario-based experiment using an online survey was conducted. The Qualtrics Corporation of Provo, UT collected the data. The results confirmed previous findings that (a) increasing consumer education about all aspects of health insurance is likely to lead to better decision making, (b) a good visual that can be seen and heard is persuasive in health communications, and (c) family, friends, and peers are very influential in financial decisions. The current study has implications for employers as well as policy makers. The results suggest that employers should use low-cost methods to improve employee understanding about the benefits of making personal HSA contributions and that policy makers should support both consumer education programs and general education programs for health insurance consumers.
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