Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements: Assets, Account Balances, and Rollovers, 2006–2011

January 2012
EBRI Issue Brief #367
Paperback, 32 pp.
PDF, 1,323 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012

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Executive Summary

ASSET LEVELS GROWING: In 2011, there was $12.4 billion in health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), spread across 8.4 million accounts, according to data from the 2011 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, sponsored by EBRI and Matthew Greenwald & Associates. This is up from 2006, when there were 1.3 million accounts with $873.4 million in assets, and 2010, when 5.4 million accounts held $7.3 billion in assets.

AFTER LEVELING OFF, AVERAGE ACCOUNT BALANCES INCREASED: After average account balances leveled off in 2008 and 2009, and fell slightly in 2010, they increased in 2011. 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. In 2010, average account balances fell to $1,355, down 4.5 percent from the previous year. In 2011, average account balances increased to $1,470, a 9 percent increase from 2010.

TOTAL AND AVERAGE ROLLOVERS INCREASE: After declining to $1,029 in 2010, average rollover amounts increased to $1,208 in 2011. Total assets being rolled over increased as well: $6.7 billion was rolled over in 2011, up from $3.7 billion in 2010. The percentage of individuals without a rollover remained at 13 percent in 2011.

HEALTHY BEHAVIOR DOES NOT MEAN HIGHER ACCOUNT BALANCES AND HIGHER ROLLOVERS: Individuals who smoke have more money in their accounts than those who do not smoke. In contrast, obese individuals have less money in their account than the nonobese. There is very little difference in account balances by level of exercise. Very small differences were found in account balances and rollover amounts between individuals who used cost or quality information, compared with those who did not use such information. However, next to no relationship was found between either account balance or rollover amounts and various cost-conscious behaviors. When a difference was found, those exhibiting the cost-conscious behavior were found to have lower account balances and rollover amounts.

DIFFERENCES IN ACCOUNT BALANCES: Men have higher account balances than women, older individuals have higher account balances than younger ones, account balances increase with household income, and education has a significant impact on account balances independent of income and other variables.

DIFFERENCES IN ROLLOVER AMOUNTS: Men rolled over more money than women, and older individuals had higher rollover amounts than younger individuals. Rollover amounts increase with household income and education, and individuals with single coverage rolled over a slightly higher amount than those with family coverage.