By Bill Olson
Chief Mar­ket­ing Offi­cer at Unit­ed Ben­e­fit Advisors

While recent sur­vey data shows that, on aver­age, employ­ers are decreas­ing the amount they’re will­ing to con­tribute to employ­ee Health Sav­ings Accounts (HSAs), there are some indus­tries that have not seen such trends.

On aver­age, employ­ees saw a 10 per­cent decrease in their aver­age sin­gle HSA employ­er con­tri­bu­tion from the pre­vi­ous year, from $574 in 2013 to $515 in 2014. Employ­ees in the pub­lic and gov­ern­ment sec­tors, how­ev­er, con­tin­ued to have the most gen­er­ous HSA con­tri­bu­tions, at $791 for sin­gles and $1,431 for fam­i­lies. Con­verse­ly, work­ers in the fol­low­ing indus­tries see the low­est aver­age sin­gle employ­er con­tri­bu­tions toward HSAs: food ser­vices ($279), retail ($323), whole­sale ($398), con­struc­tion ($434), health care/social assis­tance ($472), and mining/oil and gas extrac­tion ($831).

Some may see these trends as coun­ter­in­tu­itive. How­ev­er, upon fur­ther exam­i­na­tion, it becomes clear how employ­ers are using HSAs to sup­ple­ment plans and dri­ve employ­ees where they ulti­mate­ly want them, which is toward cost-sav­ing con­sumer dri­ven health plans (CDH­Ps). The link between CDH­Ps and HSAs helps explain indus­try dif­fer­ences in health plan costs, but demo­graph­ic dif­fer­ences are also a part of the story.

“Con­struc­tion com­pa­nies typ­i­cal­ly hire young men who demo­graph­i­cal­ly don’t place a lot of val­ue in ben­e­fits. Gov­ern­ment, on the oth­er hand, has tra­di­tion­al­ly sub­sti­tut­ed salary for ben­e­fits; one way to move those employ­ees off an expen­sive plan is to ful­ly fund their deductible,” says Bri­an M. Goff, Pres­i­dent & CEO of Insur­ance Solu­tions, a UBA Part­ner Firm. “But car­ri­er moti­va­tions can also be at play. Some car­ri­ers give a cer­tain pre­mi­um dis­count to go to the high deductible plan. So if you have a low pre­mi­um, i.e., con­struc­tion because of a young male demo­graph­ic, the pre­mi­um may only come down $800 a year to add a $1,500 deductible. On the oth­er hand, take a nurs­ing home that has expen­sive pre­mi­ums, the sav­ings may be $1,700 to add a $1,500 deductible, mak­ing it a no-brain­er to switch to an HSA plan.”

The strat­e­gy of attract­ing employ­ees to CDHP plans with gen­er­ous HSA con­tri­bu­tions has worked in the finance and insur­ance indus­try as well, where 32.3 per­cent of plans are CDH­Ps (the high­est of any indus­try) and enroll­ment is 32.1 per­cent (also the high­est enroll­ment of any indus­try). HSA con­tri­bu­tions in the finance and insur­ance indus­try are at $634 for sin­gles and $1,074 for fam­i­lies, 20.7 per­cent and 18.7 per­cent above aver­age, respectively.

The oppo­site trend can be seen in the mining/oil and gas extrac­tion indus­try, how­ev­er, where only 16.7 per­cent of plans offered are CDH­Ps, and employ­er HSA con­tri­bu­tions are also among the low­est. Cor­re­spond­ing­ly, CDHP enroll­ment in this indus­try is a mere 8.5 percent.


For the lat­est health plan cost trends, down­load the UBA Health Plan Sur­vey Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry. To bench­mark your plan to oth­ers in your region, indus­try or size brack­et, con­tact a UBA Part­ner near you to run a cus­tom bench­mark­ing report.

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