Did the pandemic boost the case for HSAs? Skip to content

Did the pandemic boost the case for HSAs?

This is the second in a two-part series with strategic insights on the Great Resignation and what matters most to employees. During the spring of 2021 HealthEquity surveyed over one thousand full-time employees across the U.S. The survey focused on notable workplace impacts from the pandemic. Read the previous post on workplace flexibility. This post uncovers how Health Savings Accounts factor into new workplace dynamics.

Employee benefits that claim to offer both short- and long-term value must prove themselves relevant through changing economic environments. So, what did the upheaval of COVID-19 reveal about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)?

valuable in volatility

HealthEquity sought to answer this question by directly asking HSA participants in a recent survey. Results showed that an HSA can deliver reassurance when uncertainty is high. A noteworthy three in four HSA participants agreed with the statement: "Having an HSA helped give me peace of mind over the past year."

The pandemic heightened people's concerns about their finances and prompted renewed focus on their ability to achieve long-term financial goals. Against this backdrop, the HSA shines as a practical tool for addressing both near-term and long-term financial needs, offering participants concrete ways to step up investment in their own financial security.

During the pandemic many participants increased their HSA engagement in ways that enable them to maximize the lifetime value of the HSA. Accordingly, 46% said they increased their HSA contributions, and 37% increased the amount of HSA funds held in an investment account.1 (These numbers were even higher for families with children in the household at 55% and 45% respectively.)


HSA Education needed

While HSA participants can attest to the benefits of an HSA-especially over the past year-our survey also indicated many employees still do not understand the benefits HSAs offer. We asked people to rank the importance of a variety of employee benefits when evaluating a firm for potential employment. HSAs scored low among those who do not currently participate in one, ranking behind home office stipends, wellness/fitness benefits and commuter benefits in priority. (HSA participants placed the HSA far ahead of these other benefits.)

This lack of awareness about the value HSAs offer was also noted in HealthEquity's 2020 consumer study, emphasizing the ongoing importance of education about the role HSAs can play in an employee's overall financial wellbeing.

Employers are increasingly recognizing the need for a holistic approach to employee financial wellbeing. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in an October 2020 study found that "employers overwhelmingly have developed or are developing formal strategies to improve their employees' financial wellbeing." The top financial wellness issues employers are tackling are health care costs and retirement.2 HSAs are uniquely positioned to address both.


Continue to emphasize the comprehensive value of the hsa

The benefits of HSAs have been reinforced through the economic uncertainty of the past year. Employee education must remain a focus in order to accomplish the dual goals of ensuring HSA participants are using them to their full potential, and that non-participants have a robust understanding of the value an HSA offers them.


Explore more resources

Want to learn even more? Check out our Health Savings Score. It's a comprehensive HSA analytics tool that gives organizations unprecedented insight into HSA program performance. You can track and measure progress, benchmark against industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement. 


The Health Savings Score is all part of Engage360, our proven approach to member engagement. Engage360 includes original collateral, analytics tools, training from an experienced industry leader and the support you need to make a difference for your people and your organization.


HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. 


About the study: Data reported are taken from original research conducted via an online survey fielded in May 2021 among a national sample of 1006 full-time employees who transitioned from onsite work environments to remote work environments at least part-time due to the pandemic. The survey was designed by HealthEquity in partnership with 8 Acre Perspective, an independent research firm.

1Investments are subject to risk, including the possible loss of the principal invested, and are not FDIC or NCUA insured, or guaranteed by HealthEquity, Inc. Investing through the HealthEquity investment platform is subject to the terms and conditions of the Health Savings Account Custodial Agreement and any applicable investment supplement. Investing may not be suitable for everyone and before making any investments, review the fund's prospectus.

2Copeland, Craig. "2020 EBRI Financial Wellbeing Employer Survey: COVID-19 Driving Benefit Offerings and Potentially Forcing Tough Budget Decisions." Employee Benefit Research Institute, Matrix Group International, Inc., October 22, 2020, https://www.ebri.org/content/2020-ebri-financial-wellbeing-employer-survey-covid-19-driving-benefit-offerings-and-potentially-forcing-tough-budget-decisions.


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