In January 2006 more than 3 million people were covered by health savings accounts offered in conjunction with relatively low-premium, high-deductible health insurance plans.
This represents a huge leap from the 1.03 million enrollment figure in March 2005. While the new HSA number is still a drop in the bucket compared to enrollment in traditional health plans, the real story for brokers and advisors is that employers of all sizes are fueling growth in this market.
According to a census by America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, HSA growth at employers with more than 50 employees increased a walloping 320% in 2006, while small group enrollments increased 250%.
The rapidly growing interest in HSAs means that brokers and advisors need to be ready, willing and able to help employers and consumers understand how this powerful health insurance option can benefit them.
Sales professionals and insurers must find ways to reduce the employee anxiety associated with selecting a new, innovative product.
Brokers who can offer solutions that provide convenience and ease of use for employees can achieve better employee adoption rates, and, consequently, greater employer satisfaction.
Here are four HSA product features that can lead to enhanced employee adoption and use.
1. Integrated plan design with auto adjudication of claims.
Perhaps the most important characteristic for an HSA is integration between the savings account administrator and the health plan administrator. This allows for coordination of enrollments, call centers and Websites to deliver an integrated service experience to members.
A new feature that is taking integration to new levels of sophistication is auto adjudication of claims. Auto adjudication aligns HSAs and benefit payments electronically, providing coordinated billing and reporting and eliminating the need for employees to handle paperwork or pay bills out of their own pockets.
For example, with auto adjudication, when an employee seeks care from a contracted provider, the provider submits the claim to the insurer for eligible services. Covered benefits are paid through the preferred provider organization (PPO) at the health plan’s discounted rate, as usual.
What is new is that any identified employee out-of-pocket costs are deducted automatically from the employee’s health savings account. This facilitates payment for these services. Members receive a single explanation-of-benefits statement that shows the amount of funds deducted from the HSA, if appropriate.
In addition, because providers are reimbursed directly, members are taken out of the middle, reducing the potential for unpaid claims and provider dissatisfaction.