Until something better comes along akin to some kind of Universal Healthcare, the flagship in of many state and federal programs designed to reduce health insurance costs and increase access to affordable medical coverage for uninsured Americans involves the purchase of High-Deductible Health Plans and couples those with Health Savings Accounts. The high-deductible plans are the hallmark of what is becoming known as Consumer Driven Health Plans, and the idea is that a consumer marketplace can help to keep costs low. The prices of such polices are originally made lower by having higher deductibles. In the concept consumers do have to pay more out of pocket for healthcare costs, but they are encouraged to open Health Savings Accounts to do so. That way they are earning an annuity while paying for healthcare expenses with pre tax dollars.
However consumers have been slow to understand let alone embrace the idea. Insurance and financial professionals are reminded that consumers felt the same apprehension when it came to IRA's (Individual Retirement Accounts) and 401K plans when they were first introduced years ago. It was hard for consumers to accept a cultural shift from a world where your employer or the government was going to provide for your retirement, to one where you yourself had the greatest stake and the greatest responsibility in your retirement savings. And yet today more than 70% of the workforce has some kind of Individual Retirement Plan. So too is a similar fundamental change required in cultural thinking, if consumers are to accept the same level of responsibility, and ultimately control, over their health insurance and healthcare dollars, say experts.
Many of the ideas that insurance professionals suggest to companies to help in the transition and get employees "on-board" not surprisingly then are very similar to the strategies employed in getting them to embrace the idea of IRA's. In particular it starts at the top so to speak. By that experts agree that it is a good idea that you as the employer contribute to the HSA account. This reflects the same decision that many employers faced on whether or not to make "matching" contributions to 401K's. And like it was a good idea then, it is a good idea now. If your company is going to offer dual options, by contributing to the HSA plan, you encourage employees to move away form the Managed Care option and select the High-Deductible Health Plan, saving your company money in the long run. If you are planning on completely replacing your current HMO or PPO group health insurance plans with the HDHP option, employer contributions help with that cultural shift according to the pros.
There are many strategies that you as a businessperson can employ to make contributions to an HSA, and make enrolment more attractive to your employees. These include but are not limited to a 2 for 1 matching incentive, where you will contribute 2 dollars for every dollar the employee contributes, and behavioral incentives where employees are rewarded with additional contributions for participating in wellness or disease management programs.