By Bill Olson
Chief Mar­ket­ing Offi­cer at Unit­ed Ben­e­fit Advisors

regionWe’ve already dis­cussed Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) activ­i­ty at length, look­ing first at the cor­re­la­tion between gen­er­ous HSA con­tri­bu­tions and increased enroll­ment in con­sumer-dri­ven health plans (CDH­Ps). Sec­ond, we looked at how HSAs have per­formed in recent years across dif­fer­ent indus­tries. Now, we’ll look clos­er at HSA activ­i­ty across dif­fer­ent regions of the coun­try, based on the results of the 2014 UBA Health Plan Sur­vey.

New Eng­land, which typ­i­cal­ly has the most gen­er­ous health care pack­ages over­all, sees only aver­age HSA con­tri­bu­tions of $685 for sin­gles and $1,342 for fam­i­lies. Cal­i­for­nia, on the oth­er hand, has the most gen­er­ous HSA con­tri­bu­tions for sin­gles at $808, yet the low­est enroll­ment in CDH­Ps: only 11.3 per­cent of plans in Cal­i­for­nia were CDHP plans and only 8.1 per­cent of employ­ees were enrolled in them.

“Mar­ket dom­i­nance of Kaiser and a strong HMO pref­er­ence in Cal­i­for­nia off­sets the rate relief offered by CDH­Ps, mak­ing the high deductible not worth­while,” says Bri­an M. Goff, Pres­i­dent & CEO of Insur­ance Solu­tions, a UBA Part­ner Firm.

Mov­ing to the mid­dle of the coun­try, we find the low­est HSA employ­er con­tri­bu­tions in the South Cen­tral region: $360 for sin­gles and $554 for fam­i­lies. North Cen­tral states, which have the high­est offer­ing of CDHP plans in the coun­try at 36 per­cent with more than 40 per­cent of employ­ees enrolled in such plans, also saw aver­age HSA con­tri­bu­tions, although still more than South Central.

“Since the North Cen­tral region is large­ly com­prised of Anthem BCBS states, car­ri­er moti­va­tions play into these stats,” says Mark Sher­man, Prin­ci­pal of LHD Ben­e­fit Advi­sors, anoth­er UBA Part­ner Firm. “Specif­i­cal­ly, low region­al inter­est in HMOs and Anthem BCBS’ pur­chase of Lumenos, a CDHP mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, made it easy for employ­ers to move from a PPO to a CDHP.”

“In the Mid­west, we still see some employ­ers con­tin­u­ing to offer high­er HSA con­tri­bu­tions or low­er pre­mi­um con­tri­bu­tions as a way to entice employ­ees to these cost-sav­ing plans,” says Andrea Kinkade, President/Benefit Advi­sor at UBA Part­ner Firm Kamin­sky & Asso­ciates, Inc. “At the end of the day, employ­ers typ­i­cal­ly have a bud­get that they work with­in,” says Kin­cade. “Either employ­ee pay­roll deduc­tions (pre­mi­ums) increase or employ­er HSA con­tri­bu­tions decrease to keep ben­e­fit costs with­in the budget.”

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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