Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements: Assets, Account Balances, and Rollovers, 2006–2009

June 2010
EBRI Issue Brief #343
Paperback, 32 pp.
PDF, 557 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2010

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Executive Summary

ASSET LEVELS GROWING: In 2009, there was $7.1 billion in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), which include health savings accounts (or HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (or HRAs), spread across 5 million accounts. This is up from 2006, when there were 1.2 million accounts with $835.4 million in assets, and 2008, when 4.2 million accounts held $5.7 billion in assets.

AVERAGE ACCOUNT BALANCE LEVELING OFF: Increases in average account balances appear to have leveled off. In 2006, account balances averaged $696. They increased to $1,320 in 2007, a 90 percent increase. Account balances averaged $1,356 in 2008 and $1,419 in 2009, 3 percent and 5 percent increases, respectively.

TYPICAL ENROLLEE: The typical CDHP enrollee was more likely than traditional plan enrollees to be young, unmarried, higher-income, educated, and exhibit healthy behavior. No differences were found between CDHPs enrollees and traditional plan enrollees with respect to gender, race, and presence of children.

MORE ROLLOVERS: Overall, the number of people with a rollover, as well as the total level of assets being rolled over, have been increasing. The average rollover increased from $592 in 2006 to $1,295 in 2009.

DIFFERENCES IN ACCOUNT BALANCES: Men tend to have higher account balances than women, account balances increase with household income, education has a significant impact on account balances independent of income and other variables, and no statistically significant differences in account balances were found by smoking, obesity, or the presence of chronic health conditions. Individuals who developed a budget to manage their health care expenses had a higher account balance ($1,726) than those who did not ($1,428), but otherwise, no statistically significant differences in average account balances were found between individuals who exhibited various aspects of cost-conscious decision-making behaviors and those who did not.

DIFFERENCES IN ROLLOVER AMOUNTS: Men rolled over more money than women, whites have higher rollover amounts than minorities, and the youngest adults and the oldest adults had the largest rollover amounts in 2009. Rollover amounts increase with household income and education, and individuals with single coverage rolled over a slightly higher average amount than those with family coverage. There was no statistically significant difference in rollover amounts by health status, although individuals who smoke had higher rollover amounts than those who do not and obese individuals had lower average rollover amounts than nonobese individuals. Individuals who talked to their doctor about treatment options and costs, those who used an online cost-tracking tool provided by the health plan, and those who asked their doctor to recommend a less costly prescription drug had higher rollover amounts than those who did not take such actions.