Health savings accounts can be a great tool for consumers to take control of their health care, but they will only be useful if people understand them.
And understanding HSAs is a tall order, as evidenced by a survey from Fidelity Investments.
Two-thirds (65 percent) of some 1,800 respondents said they simply do not understand how an HSA works, despite the growing number of people who use them. Fidelity surveyed adults who hold the responsibility for making household health benefits decisions.
See also: HSAs reach $18.1 billion
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Many respondents expressed confusion between a health savings account and a flexible savings account, Fidelity found. The majority of respondents (73 percent) said an HSA is pretty much the same thing as a health FSA or were unsure, and the “use it or lose it” provision of FSAs was one of the most commonly misunderstood differences between the account types. And, 69 percent of all respondents incorrectly felt they would lose unspent money in an HSA at the end of the year.
The widespread lack of awareness around HSAs may be causing consumers to “miss out on its short- and long-term savings opportunities,” Fidelity researchers said.
“With annual enrollment in workplace benefits approaching in the early fall, the time to educate employees who are offered HSAs on their features is now, prior to them making a year-long commitment that precludes them from taking advantage of the accounts’ many benefits,” Fidelity said in a news release Tuesday.
Employers can help with HSA education; the survey affirmed they are an “influential source” among HSA users.