By Shelby Livingston, Crain News Service
CHICAGO (Aug. 3, 2015) — Though enrollment in consumer-driven health plans continues to rise, most employees don't understand the health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or flexible spending accounts linked to the plans, according to a new report.
The Acclaris Consumer Education Survey Report released July 29 by technology provider Acclaris, a Towers Watson & Co. business, said 64.5 percent of health industry professionals rated consumers' knowledge of HSAs and HRAs as mediocre, and 28.2 percent rated their knowledge as poor.
Forty percent of health professionals said HSAs are the most difficult for consumers to understand, followed by HRAs at 27.1 percent, Acclaris said in the report.
According to the survey, 63.1 percent of respondents said lack of education was the biggest hurdle to adoption of consumer-driven health accounts, while 19.5 percent said awareness is the greatest challenge.
Acclaris highlighted several gaps in knowledge surrounding consumer-driven health plans. Thirty-two percent of health professionals said consumers don't know how an HSA can and should be used, 19.8 percent said consumers don't understand which expenses are reimbursable, and 18.1 percent said they didn't know when to use health care accounts.
“Consumers are still extremely confused about consumer-directed health plan options and when/how to best use the funds in those accounts, especially when it comes to HSAs. The call for improved consumer education is clear,” Acclaris CEO Dean Mason said in the statement.
Acclaris said 53.1 percent of surveyed health professionals believe employers are responsible for educating employees about consumer-directed health accounts.
Twenty-six percent of respondents preferred email as the most effective channel for education consumers, while social media was voted least effective, Acclaris said.
According to the survey, 47.4 percent of respondents said employees need information at all points of the benefits process, while 21.2 percent said employees need information continuously throughout the year. Only 7.1 percent said information should be limited to the enrollment period.
Acclaris conducted the survey of more than 300 health industry professionals from June to July.
This report appeared on the website of Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.