Research measuring small business owners' knowledge of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) has disclosed an information gap. It was conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business advocacy group in Washington D.C.
"HSAs are offered by eleven percent of small employers, and nearly half of employers are knowledgeable about them," said William Dennis, Senior Research Fellow, NFIB Research Foundation. "The largest of the firms surveyed were most aware of the HSA options available to them, making it easier to introduce these plans. "There continues to be a need for education among the smallest of employers about HSAs," Dennis added, "so they may consider them as an option to help decrease costs and increase coverage."
The survey polled employers with five to 249 employees and found that, while some businesses have reduced costs more than forty percent by using HSAs versus traditional plans, the level of understanding goes up consistently with a firm's number of employees. Many smaller firms are unlikely to offer HSAs, and researchers determined that some firms lacking knowledge about the plans may be unaware of their benefits.
Small business owners rely heavily on information from insurance brokers and agents in their regions when making health insurance decisions. HSA penetration is greatest in the Midwest, where it appears brokers have made a concerted effort to disseminate information. Leveraging this informational resource with small employers could increase HSA penetration overall.
"This research illustrates that a key component to increased use of HSAs is the amount of information available. We see an opportunity for brokers and agents to play a more active role in educating small businesses about HSAs," said Dennis.
The study, commissioned by NFIB's Research Foundation, was conducted by DSS Research, based in Ft. Worth, TX. An executive summary and complete survey results are available at www.nfib.com/research.
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