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Workers Don't Know They Can Use HSAs to Invest: Cerulli

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Financial professionals may be much more interested in health savings accounts these days, but that doesn’t mean that plan participants are — or that they quite know what to do with them.

So says new research from Cerulli in the fourth-quarter 2018 issue of The Cerulli Edge — U.S. Retirement Edition, which says that financial professionals, including asset managers, recordkeepers, consultants and plan sponsors, are “talking past each other” when it comes to retirement income solutions, and participants really have little idea of what health care costs might do to their finances in retirement — something that sponsors should address by quantifying the impact such costs can have.

“Interest in the HSA market from the DC community (i.e., defined contribution investment-only asset managers, recordkeepers, advisors/consultants) has peaked in the last 12–24 months due to an increased emphasis on holistic financial planning and financial wellness programs,” Dan Cook, an analyst in the retirement practice at Cerulli, is quoted saying in the report.

Cook adds, “Many DC plan participants miss the opportunity to accumulate savings for health care needs in retirement, not because they do not want to invest, but because they do not know that they can use an HSA to invest. This knowledge gap can be addressed through education efforts aimed at getting participants, plan sponsors and advisors to view HSAs as a retirement benefit.”

The triple tax advantage of HSAs, as well as the portability of such accounts and other benefits, need to be explained to HSA owners so that they can better take advantage of those perks.

Cerulli also suggests that the timing and frequency of HSA-related communications be tied to the employer’s retirement plan offering, so that workers make the connection between HSAs and DC plans — thus associating the former with retirement savings.


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