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Survey Finds There’s (Still) Lots to Learn About HSAs

Industry Trends and Research

Suggesting the growing convergence of health and retirement savings, more than half of respondents educate employees on allocating assets between their 401(k) or 403(b) plan and a Health Savings Account (HSA) – but employee education remains the dominant concern of plan sponsors.

In fact, 60% of respondents to the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s first-ever survey on HSA design and use, said so. The inaugural HSA survey was sponsored by Empower Retirement. 

The survey of nearly 200 plan sponsors found that the most common resources used to educate employees about their HSAs were “how-to” guides (56.6%) and group presentations (59.9%). 

HSA education takes place primarily at open enrollment for 76.4% of organizations, though one in five plan sponsor respondents say they offer HSA education multiple times throughout the year. 

The survey also revealed that:

  • 38.2% of organizations have offered an HSA to employees for 2 to 5 years, while 34.4% have offered an HSA to employees for 6 to 10 years.
  • A quarter of organizations encourage or offer additional education to employees who do not contribute to the HSA or only contribute a nominal amount.
  • The average participant contribution in 2018 was $2,595, and the average account balance at the end of 2018 was $5,239.
  • The vast majority of responding organizations (85.6%) offer investment options for HSA contributions, though three-quarters require a minimum balance of at least $1,000 to invest assets beyond money market funds or cash.
  • Fewer than 10% of organizations use or suggest a default savings rate to employees for their HSA.

The data reported is from 189 employers that offered an HSA-qualifying health option in 2018. 

Acknowledging the significant expansion in availability and its potential role as a retirement savings vehicle, PSCA created a committee in 2016 to focus on HSAs. In the spring of 2017, PSCA conducted a snapshot survey of companies that offer HSA-qualifying health plans to establish a baseline on HSA plan design and use. 

This survey, conducted in early 2019 and reflecting 2018 plan data, is the first of what will be an annual comprehensive benchmarking survey of HSAs conducted by PSCA. The survey is available for purchase at a special rate through July 5 at