While health care costs continue to rise, companies do have a way to control how much it affects their finances. Health savings accounts are a good way to pass much of the responsibility of health care costs to employees while also educating them about the benefits of staying healthy.
“Employees that are on the health savings account plan tend to make better decisions about their health care because they know they are paying for it,” says Beth Stec, director of human resources and corporate communications at MCPc Inc.
According to the 2009 ERC/Smart Business Workplace Practices Survey, the number of companies offering a health savings account program has increased from 13 percent in 2006 to 31 percent in 2009.
“The advantage to a health savings account is, typically, the premiums are lower from an employee standpoint, so they don’t have to pay as much month to month and they don’t have to pay for benefits they are not using,” Stec says. “Someone who is very healthy and gets maybe one sinus infection a year, that’s the population that is ideal for a health savings account.”
Since there is no co-pay in the HSA plan, it also encourages regular checkups and health maintenance that can help employees continue to avoid getting sick and missing time from work.
“Hopefully, they are putting two and two together and realizing wellness is the key and they are going for their preventive care visits,” Stec says. “If they are taking care of themselves all along, then hopefully their medical costs are lower in the long run.”
When major expenses do arise, an effectively used HSA can make it less painful. Employees can contribute to it any time and can keep adding money year after year, unlike a flexible spending account, which has to be spent within the year that the contribution was made.
The key is to educate your employees and give them all the information they need to make an educated decision.
“Call your rep and ask for information on the health savings plan that they offer and ask them if they would be agreeable to having someone come out to speak to employees,” Stec says.
How to reach: MCPc Inc., (800) 777-7178 or www.mcpc.com