Young Millennials Drive HSA Growth

HSAs are increasingly gaining traction in the workplace — but primarily for the youngest members of the workforce, the second annual State of Employee Benefits report from Benefitfocus shows.

New to the report for 2017, the benefits technology company included average salary data, which provides greater context around employee behavior. This additional information identified millennials as investing 20% more of their salary into their HSAs than any other generation.

Millennials continued to adopt HDHPs at a higher rate than other generations, especially those under the age of 26, whose election rate rose from 41% in 2016 to 45% in 2017.

“This year’s report documents the continued shift by employers to consumer-driven healthcare plan designs,” says Shawn Jenkins, co-founder and CEO of Benefitfocus.

Five themes for the 2017 plan year emerged from the report:

1) Employees have more choice in healthcare benefits. HDHPs now appear in three out of every five large employer benefit offerings, but PPO plans remain the most popular choice for employees with 43% enrollment in the last year.

2) Health plan participation fluctuates with age and wage. Employees over the age of 36 who select an HDHP have up to 17% higher salaries on average compared to those selecting a PPO. Overall, salaries for people enrolling in PPOs went from $68,398 on average in 2016 to $63,508 in 2017, while salaries for people enrolling in HDHPs dropped from $72,882 on average in 2016 to $65,600 in 2017.

3) Employee costs are up significantly, regardless of health plan. Average out-of-pocket maximums for PPOs increased by double-digits from 2016 to 2017, while HDHPs increased approximately 5%. Individual costs went up 11.2% and family coverage went up 10%.

4) Employees, especially young ones, are saving more. Employee contribution to HSAs and flexible spending accounts are up, with millennials dramatically increasing their contributions by nearly 31%.

5) Employers are increasingly embracing voluntary benefits. Nearly half of large employers on the Benefitfocus platform now offer at least one voluntary income protection benefit such as accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity, and the number of employers offering all three products nearly doubled to 17% in 2017, compared to 9% for 2016.

“Employers continue to offer more choice in benefits — both with HDHPs and voluntary benefits — to help employees personalize their benefits to best suit their unique health and financial needs,” says Jenkins.

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