HSA shift can drive big savings

By BenefitsPro


By Kathryn Mayer

High-deductible health plans paired with health savings accounts can save employers a bundle on premiums.

That’s according to a study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefits Research Institute.

EBRI analyzed detailed claims data over a five-year period from a large Midwestern employer that adopted a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account for all employees in place of its traditional health care offering.

The result? Total health care spending for the employer fell by 25 percent the first year, or $527 per person in the aggregate.

“Results show that spending was reduced significantly in the inaugural years of the HSA plan in medical, pharmacy and total claims categories,” Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s health education and research program, said in a statement. “Results also show the cost savings continued over the succeeding three years — albeit at a slower pace.”

With the exception of spending on inpatient hospital stays, each category of health spending experienced statistically significant reductions in the first year of the HSA plan.

Spending on laboratory services and prescription drugs had the largest statistically significant declines (36 percent and 32 percent, respectively).

And reductions in pharmacy and laboratory spending sustained over the four years after the HSA was adopted.

CDHPs — and their associated HSAs — have been gaining traction over the last decade.

In 2012, 22 percent of smaller employers, 36 percent of larger employers, and 59 percent of jumbo employers offered some form of a CDHP, and nearly one in five workers were enrolled in one, according to EBRI.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com