Published on December 13, 2013

Employees in HSAs more active managing med costs

By Matt Dunning, Crain News Service

CHICAGO (Dec. 13, 2013) — Employees often take a more active role in managing their health and controlling their medical care costs once they enroll in health savings accounts (HSAs), according to a survey published Dec. 11 by Buck Consultants L.L.C.

Forty-four percent of employees said they had become more diligent in monitoring their healthcare costs since enrolling in an HSA, and 36 percent said they are more likely to evaluate the total cost of medical care prior to receiving services, according to the New York-based human resources consultancy’s survey.

Buck’s survey polled more than 23,000 members of BenefitWallet, an HSA administrative service provider owned by Xerox Corp., Buck Consultants’ parent company.

About 30 percent of BenefitWallet members polled said they were more active in planning their use of healthcare services throughout the year, shopping for lower-priced prescription drugs, and discussing the cost of medical care with their doctors than they had been prior to selecting an HAS.

The survey also found that 25 percent said they were more likely to research healthcare costs on the Internet and choose less costly services.

“HSA members are making wiser healthcare decisions,” Travis Klavohn, director of consumer health solutions at BenefitWallet. “They are evaluating costs more closely before receiving care, shopping for lower-priced drugs and choosing less costly services. They attribute their changed behavior to owning an HSA.”

Buck’s survey also examined the effects HSA enrollment has had on employees’ utilization of medical services. According to the survey results, 18 percent of employees were more likely to opt for generic prescription drugs over name brands, and 12 percent said their use of preventative and primary care services had gone up since enrolling in a health savings account.

Conversely, 17 percent said they had decreased their total number of doctor visits since joining an HSA, 12 percent said they had used fewer outpatient services, and 11 percent said they had decreased their use of prescription drugs, laboratory services and other ancillary services.

This report appeared on the website of Crain’s Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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