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Study: Income Affects How Workers View HSAs

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High-income consumers and low-income consumers are interested in different features of health savings account arrangements.

Researchers at Mintel International Group Ltd., Chicago, have published figures illustrating the differences in a summary of results from a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults with Internet access ages 18 and older.

The researchers have published the survey in a wide-ranging review of the HSA market that deals with issues such as the size of market, the nature of the major players in the market, and the strategies the players are using to market their products.

One section of the report deals with consumers’ views of HSAs and includes data broken down by factors such as age, household size and income.

The Mintel researchers found that consumers with annual household incomes under $25,000 were almost as interested in HSAs and the accompanying high-deductible health insurance as consumers with annual household incomes over $100,000.

Although the high-income survey participants were more likely to have heard of HSAs, the level of willingness to consider HSAs was similar in both groups.

Only 34% of the high-income consumers and 38% of the low-income consumers said they are definitely not interested in HSAs.

But the researchers found that the 2 groups of consumers have different reasons to be interested in HSAs.

Only 5% of the high-income consumers said they are interested because they have no health coverage and believe that they might be able to afford coverage if they had an HSA arrangement, but 29% cited potential tax savings as the best reason to get an HSA.

In the low-income group, 12% of the consumers surveyed said they are uninsured and view an HSA as a possible strategy for affording health coverage, and 16% said the most important advantage of owning an HSA would be the ability to pay for things not currently covered by insurance, such as eyeglasses, with pre-tax dollars.

For survey participants with incomes under $50,000, the most important disadvantage of the HSA concept was the idea of having to pay the full cost of items such as prescriptions before they met their deductibles.

Higher-income participants said the biggest disadvantage was the risk that they might not spend more than the deductible on health care in a year.


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