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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.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

The author is paid for product endorsements and has an ownership or other financial interest in the businesses related to the topics covered.

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Savings with HSAs

Q: I read that employers who moved to health savings account plans are reporting only about 10% net savings because the insurance is so expensive?

A: Yes this seems to be true partly because of the insurance restrictions but also partly because employers are using these plans inefficiently. HSAs are not appropriate for all employees in most businesses but a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRAs) is always a good idea when an employer provides health benefits to employees. Virtually all of the nation's largest employers offer HSAs as an option only, and they are offered through an HRA. This boosts overall savings to about 17%, according to national surveys. HSAs require a specific insurance that is not available at an attractive price to everyone. That simply means that HSAs do not work for everyone. HRAs do not require any specific insurance and do ensure savings for all employees. Keep in mind that maximizing a company's savings on insurance is a separate issue from maximizing savings on out-of-pocket heath costs and that the two goals should be managed separately. Finally, keep in mind that all types of consumer-driven health plans, including HSAs and HRAs, do result improved satisfaction with the quality of health care. It may be difficult to put a dollar value on this improvement in employee satisfaction but still should be considered when evaluating health plan choices. Freedom Benefits offers a service for maximizing savings on both types of health plans for a single flat fee of $150. See www.FreedomBenefits.org for more information.