HKS Authors

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Background: Employers are increasingly offering high-deductible health insurance plans with associated health savings accounts (HSAs), but there is limited information on account contributions or effects on patient care seeking. Objective: We examined HSA contributions and their source, patient-reported effects of costs on care seeking, and reports of financial burden. Research Design: We conducted telephone interviews with 488 adult members of small group of employer-sponsored HSA-eligible plans within an integrated delivery system. Principal Findings: HSA contribution sources and amounts varied with 32% receiving an employer contribution and also making their own employee contribution, 35% only receiving an employer contribution (no employee contribution), 19% only making their own contribution (no employer contribution), and 14% with no HSA contribution from either source. After adjustment for respondent characteristics, those who made their own HSA contributions in addition to their employer’s contribution were significantly more likely to report that costs affected their care-seeking behavior, compared with those with only employer contributions (39% vs. 31% for emergency department and 60% vs. 49% for office visits, all P0.05). Respondents who contributed to their HSA or who paid out-of-pocket for care were significantly more likely to report financial burdens than those with only employer contributions (P0.05). Conclusions: The majority of consumers receive employer contributions to their HSA, but few have fully funded accounts. Those with only an employer contribution reported fewer changes in their care-seeking behavior and were less likely to report experiencing financial burdens.


Reed, Mary, Huihui Wang, Ilana Graetz, Vicki Fung, Joseph P. Newhouse, and John Hsu. "Consumer Directed Health Plans with Health Savings Accounts: Whose Skin Is in the Game and How Do Costs Affect Care-Seeking." Medical Care 50.7 (July 2012): 585-590.