Use of Health Savings Accounts Among US Adults Enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans.

TitleUse of Health Savings Accounts Among US Adults Enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKullgren, JT, Cliff, EQ, Krenz, C, West, BT, Levy, HG, A. Fendrick, M, Fagerlin, A
JournalJAMA Network Open
ISSN Number2574-3805
KeywordsCosts and Cost Analysis, Deductibles and Coinsurance, Female, health, Insurance, Male, Medical Savings Accounts

Importance: Health savings accounts (HSAs) can be used by enrollees in high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save for health care expenses before taxes. Expansion of and encouraging contributions to HSAs have been centerpieces of recent federal legislation. Little is known about how US residents who may be eligible for HSAs are using them to save for health care.

Objective: To determine which patients who may be eligible for an HSA do not have one and what decisions patients with HSAs make about contributing to them.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional national survey assessed an online survey panel representative of the US adult population. Adults aged 18 to 64 years and enrolled in an HDHP for at least 12 months were eligible to participate. Data were collected from August 26 to September 19, 2016, and analyzed from November 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Prevalence of not having an HSA or not making HSA contributions in the last 12 months and reasons for not making the HSA contributions.

Results: Based on data from 1637 individuals (American Association of Public Opinion Research response rate 4, 54.8%), half (50.6% [95% CI, 47.7%-53.6%]) of US adults in HDHPs were female, and most were aged 36 to 51 (35.7% [95% CI, 32.8%-38.6%]) or 52 to 64 (36.8% [95% CI, 34.1%-39.5%]) years. Approximately 1 in 3 (32.5% [95% CI, 29.8%-35.3%]) did not have an HSA. Those who obtained their health insurance through an exchange were more likely to lack an HSA (70.3% [95% CI, 61.9%-78.6%]) than those who worked for an employer that offered only 1 health insurance plan (36.5% [95% CI, 30.9%-42.1%]; P < .001). More than half of individuals with an HSA (55.0% [95% CI, 51.1%-58.8%]) had not contributed money into it in the last 12 months. Among HDHP enrollees with an HSA, those with at least a master's degree (46.1% [95% CI, 38.3%-53.9%]; P = .02) or a high level of health insurance literacy (47.3% [95% CI, 40.7%-54.0%]; P = .03) were less likely to have made no HAS contributions. Common reasons for not contributing to an HSA included not considering it (36.8% [95% CI, 30.8%-42.8%]) and being unable to afford saving for health care (31.9% [95% CI, 26.2%-37.6%]).

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that many US adults enrolled in an HDHP lack an HSA, and few with an HSA saved for health care in the last year. Targeted interventions should be explored by employers, health plans, and health systems to encourage HSA uptake and contributions among individuals who could benefit from their use.

Citation Key11898
PubMed ID32678453
PubMed Central IDPMC7368175
Grant ListIK2 HX001517 / HX / HSRD VA / United States