Today, more employers than ever offer their employees a consumer-driven health plan with a health savings account (HSA) as part of their benefits package. And to help build employee adoption and engagement, HR managers are constantly challenged to come up with educational tactics.
Oftentimes, when educating employees about their HSA, employers focus on tax advantages and the flexibility of these accounts to be used for both spending and saving. But, a lot of research shows that most people retain more information if a little bit of fun is introduced into the educational process.
Liven Up Employees’ Education about HSAs
The good news is that there are lighthearted ways to gain employees’ attention regarding their HSAs, such as leveraging fun facts, national observances, and the changing seasons to highlight some of the more unusual or lesser-known items people can purchase with their HSA funds. Here are a few examples:
- Did you know that, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), most people wait 10 years from the time they realize they have hearing loss until they purchase their first set of hearing aids? What’s more, although hearing aids and other assistive devices can improve quality of life, only about one in four adults (aged 20 and older) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids has ever used them.Of course, consumers weigh multiple factors when deciding to get hearing aids. What they should know, however, is that if they have an HSA, they can use those funds to pay for the aids and batteries. With May designated as Better Hearing Month, employers could hold an on-site hearing screening event, during which resources and information can be made widely available. National Safety Month in June, Healthy Aging Month in September, and National Health Education Week in October are other upcoming national health-related observances when it may make sense to promote HSAs and tie back to the theme.
- As we approach summer, many of us, especially in the northern latitudes, seek to spend as much time as possible outside to soak in that sunshine and warm air. Of course, the more time we play outdoors, the greater our risk for acquiring a not-so-healthy sunburn; accumulating scrapes, cuts, and bruises; and exposing ourselves to allergens that can turn our days and nights into marathons of misery.
Consider inserting short HSA-related tips into your employee newsletter or regular all-employee e-mail. After all, your employees probably don’t know that sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater can be purchased with HSA dollars, as can bandages and, with a doctor’s prescription, over-the-counter allergy medications. Some people are surprised to learn that even over-the-counter topical creams for bug bites and poison oak/ivy, antacids (summer picnic food, anyone?), and aspirin are eligible HSA expenses with a doctor’s prescription.
Another tip to share with your workforce: If you know that you or a family member is bound to suffer from summer allergies or encounter patches of poison ivy or numerous insect stings and bites, share that information with your primary care provider during annual checkups, and ask your doctor to write a prescription for over-the-counter remedies. That way, you can save time and money throughout the year by avoiding individual trips to the doctor.
- Any time of year is good to use regular employee communication channels to highlight lesser-known HSA-eligible expenses, which can make for fun and informative reading. Did you know, for example, that service animals and related costs like grooming and veterinarian bills are HSA-eligible expenses? Home and car renovations to accommodate a disability or medical condition may also be eligible. And, employees seeking complementary or integrated healthcare solutions such as acupuncture or massage therapy should know that these treatments are eligible expenses, as long as a doctor or licensed healthcare provider certifies that they are medically necessary.
For more information on HSA-eligible expenses, check with your HSA administrator, consult the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 502 to see the complete IRS-qualified medical expenses list, or encourage employees to contact their tax adviser.
We all know that health care isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Everyone has unique health needs. The good news is that HSAs, with the flexibility they offer through reimbursing multiple and various expenses, can help your employees afford the customized care they deserve to live their best lives every day.
Emily McAuliffe is the Chief Marketing Officer with Further, a national leader in health spending account administration dedicated to guiding account holders across the United States in saving and spending wisely on their health care. Further serves more than 28,000 large corporations and small businesses, labor unions, retirees, and groups in the public sector by providing HSAs, flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA) accounts, and commuter benefit services. Visit hellofurther.com for more information.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only, is general in nature, is not meant to include all health insurance plan designs, and is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal or tax advice.