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Combined assets of HSAs, HRAs now top $17.8 billion

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The combined assets of health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements grew by 43 percent in 2012, according to a new report.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute disclosed this finding in its January 2013 EBRI Issue Brief. The report details the assets, account balances and rollovers for HSAs and HRAs from 2006 to 2012.

The study pegs the combined assets of HSAs and HRAs at year-end 2012 at $17.8 billion, up from the $12.4 billion at the close of the 2011. The 2011 result represents a 69 percent increase over the 2011 combined assets of $7.3 billion.

The EBRI report adds that the combined number of HSA and HRA accounts totaled 11.6 million at year-end 1012, up 36 percent from 8.5 million accounts recorded in 2011. The increase also represents a 115 percent rise over the 5.4 million accounts on recorded at year-end 2010.

In 2006, the start of the seven-year period tracked by the study, EBRI recorded 1.3 million accounts with $873.4 million in assets.

According to results from the 2012 Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS), sponsored by EBRI and Mathew Greenwald and Associates average account balances leveled off in 2008 and 2009, and fell slightly in 2010, but increased in 2011 and 2012. Specifically, average account balances rebounded to $1,470 (up 9 percent increase from 2010) and to $1,534 in 2012 (a 4 percent increase).

Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report, noted a finding that healthy behavior by owners of these health accounts does not mean they have higher balances.

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“Individuals who smoke have more money in their accounts than those who do not smoke. There was very little difference in account balances by level of exercise,” Fronstin says. “Next to no relationship was found between either account balance or rollover amounts and various cost-conscious behaviors.”

Among other findings, the report found that:

Men have higher account balances than women;

Older individuals have higher account balances;

Account balances increase with household income, and education has a significant impact on account balances independent of income and other variables;

Rollover amounts increased with household income and education; and

Individuals with single coverage rolled over a slightly higher amount than those with family coverage in 2012.