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Matt Dunning

Employees in HSAs take more active role in managing medical costs

December 11, 2013 - 12:12pm

Health Savings Accounts


Employees often take a more active role in managing their health and controlling their medical care costs once they enroll in health savings accounts, according to a survey published Wednesday by Buck Consultants L.L.C.

Forty-four percent of employees said they had become more diligent in monitoring their health care costs since enrolling in an HSA, and 36% said they are more likely to evaluate the total cost of medical care prior to receiving services, according to the New York-based human resources consultancy's survey.

Buck's survey polled more than 23,000 members of BenefitWallet, an HSA administrative service provider owned by Xerox Corp., Buck Consultants' parent company.

About 30% of BenefitWallet members polled said they were more active in planning their use of health care services throughout the year, shopping for lower-priced prescription drugs, and discussing the cost of medical care with their doctors than they had been prior to selecting an HSA, while 25% said they were more likely to research health care costs on the Internet and choose less costly services.

"HSA members are making wiser health care decisions," Travis Klavohn, director of consumer health solutions at BenefitWallet. "They are evaluating costs more closely before receiving care, shopping for lower-priced drugs and choosing less costly services. They attribute their changed behavior to owning an HSA."

Buck's survey also examined the effects HSA enrollment has had on employees' utilization of medical services. According to the survey results, 18% of employees were more likely to opt for generic prescription drugs over name brands, and 12% said their use of preventative and primary care services had gone up since enrolling in a health savings account.

Conversely, 17% said they had decreased their total number of doctor visits since joining an HSA, 12% said they had used fewer outpatient services, and 11% said they had decreased their use of prescription drugs, laboratory services and other ancillary services.