Companies can encourage employees to use health savings accounts by putting cash in the accounts.

Researchers at UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., a company that sells HSAs and HSA-compatible health coverage, have reported that conclusion in a discussion of the experience of 25,000 consumers who were enrolled in employer-sponsored UnitedHealth HSA programs throughout 2005.

Only 60% of all consumers in HSA-compatible plans actually open HSAs, but that percentage was 91% for employers that contributed to the HSAs, the researchers report.

About 70% of UnitedHealth employer clients contributed to employees’ HSAs, and the average employer contribution was $895, UnitedHealth says.

About 67% of the employees added to the HSAs, and those who made contributions deposited an average of $1,206 into the accounts.

About 80% of eligible individuals earning less than $25,000 per year opened HSAs, the researchers report.