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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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Health Savings Account fee ranking

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: I saw an article in a professional journal where someone had ranked HSA administrators based on the various fees they charge. I haven’t been able to find anything on the internet. Can you offer any insight?

A: Most Health Savings Account administrators today do not charge fees so this is usually a moot point. For employer-provided health plans with the "big name" providers like Blue Cross affiliates, Kaiser, Humana, etc., the costs associated with plan and account administration is incorporated into the overall pricing of services. Individuals enrolling on their own can use a HSA account offered by First American Bank that has no fees. Many of the health plans offered to smaller companies offer similar free HSA accounts. Those that do elect to pay a fee for account administrations usually do so because it provides access to particular desired investment features. For example, my spouse has a free HSA account through Aetna but also elected to open a second HSA account using Vanguard Funds through HS Administrators Inc. that charges a small annual fee. The perceived value of owning Vanguard no-load mutual funds makes it seem worthwhile. In reality, there is no indication that paying higher fees provides in any tangible positive benefit to account owners in terms of increased net return on investment. Some HSA owners prefer to have an independent advisor handle their HSA in the same manner as their other investment accounts. For this purpose, TD Ameritrade offers a flawless service that parallels that offered for large investment accounts. The fees are higher than other options, but these clients who are hiring expensive advisers tend to be les sensitive to items like account administration fees. The list of three preferred independent account administrators is at . The recommendations are not based exclusively on fees, but rather on overall quality of experience with these custodians. The list may change from time to time as market trends and offerings shift. As a side note, some time age we approached with the idea of supporting enrollment a wider range of HSA administrators. I saw little value to the public in expanding the "product line" since it seems that HSAs are a commodity item that come in three of four basic formats. Most of the more recent innovations, IMO, have been detrimental to account owners. (See other posts about HSAs connected to credit a cards and commodity futures contracts.). The financial services industry is working hard to cash in on the HSA trend, but there is no indication yet that any of this benefits the consumer.


More resources:

Online enrollment for First American Bank free HSA administration Printable enrollment form for HS Administrators with Vanguard Funds Just Say No to Futures-Linked HSAs Consumer Driven Health Care Blog