Kameron Jones, Senior Advisor
As Americans look into the future and towards retirement, many understand that maintaining their health will be
an important part of their overall quality of life after they stop working. However, uncertainty around healthcare
costs – both now and in retirement – is a major financial worry among Americans preparing for retirement. So
how can you help your workers reduce financial anxiety about retirement preparedness and increase the
likelihood that they will be able to meet their healthcare costs in retirement?
Health savings accounts (HSAs) present retirement plan sponsors a unique opportunity to address both the
wealth and health of employees planning for retirement. HSAs are a popular way for individuals to save for
medical expenses while reducing their taxable income – in effect, using their HSA as a long-term investment
vehicle. And though HSAs typically are introduced to employees as part of their high deductible healthcare plans
(these are the only plan types which currently offer HSAs), many recordkeepers are beginning to offer them in an
integrated platform where that can be reviewed alongside retirement savings.
Here are four reasons to integrate HSAs into your retirement plan offering:
1. Health Savings Accounts Address Concerns About Future Costs
In today’s retirement plan marketplace, holistic approaches increasingly feature a multi-faceted
program that offers numerous features, all aimed at improving retirement readiness. While in the past it
was sufficient to offer employees a straight-forward savings vehicle and trust that they would responsibly
go about making contributions, today’s plan sponsors have seen that the introduction of sophisticated
plan design features such as automatic enrollment, automatic escalation and financial wellness
consultation go a long way towards boosting outcomes for their employees. With healthcare being such
an important factor in quality of life, we see HSAs as one more tool you can wield in improving overall plan
HSAs are designed to assist individuals in paying for healthcare expenses both now and in the future.
Today, a healthy 65-year-old male retiree can expect to pay $144,000 to cover healthcare expenses
during retirement, and many studies show that we can expect health costs to rise at a rate that outpaces
inflation, meaning this number will only grow over time. As HSAs are designed to provide a savings vehicle
dedicated to covering qualified healthcare expenses, their ability to grow contributions tax-free helps
defray the effect of future cost increases.
2. Health Savings are Triple Tax-Free Now and in Retirement
HSAs are unique in that they are designed specifically for healthcare expenses yet act more like an
individual retirement account (IRA). HSAs are the only triple-tax advantaged savings vehicle of its kind.
Participants with an HSA make contributions with pre-tax income, earnings and interest grow tax-free,
and withdrawals are tax-free when used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Once in retirement, HSAs
include no minimum required distributions and no Social Security or Medicare tax on contributions.
3. HSAs Can be Easily Integrated into an Existing Plan
You may be concerned about the administrative burden of incorporating an HSA into an existing plan, but in reality it can be done with little added administrative effort. In fact, it is possible for you to reduce administrative complexities with a single platform for both defined contribution plans and HSAs (as mentioned previously, many major recordkeepers offer their own HSA programs). With one portal that handles enrollment, retirement plan management, financial wellness programs, and HSA management, participants and sponsors can enjoy the added benefits of having these additional features seamlessly incorporated into their existing accounts. To improve the overall implementation of HSAs into a plan, we also encourage plan sponsors to incorporate HSA education into the front end of employee training, alongside other educational efforts for defined contribution plans and healthcare benefits.
4. Health Savings Accounts can Boost Employee Recruiting and Retention
If American workers are as anxious about medical expenses in retirement (and financial wellness in general) as surveys indicate, then a holistic retirement plan offering can be leveraged for marketing to potential new hires. A retirement plan that alleviates an employee’s concerns about the future will help employers retain existing workers and help attract new talent. By integrating an HSA into a robust retirement plan, your company signals that it understands the challenges to retirement preparedness and is ready to offer benefits that do the most to prepare them. The HSA account also rolls over in the same way a retirement account does, even if they choose to change jobs later on, making the benefit to the employee portable.
With the ultimate goal of providing a holistic retirement plan that prepares participants for financial security in retirement, you may want to consider adding HSAs to your plan offering. As a unique vehicle designed to reward savers with triple-tax benefits, HSAs can be seamlessly integrated into existing retirement plans while helping employee recruitment and retention. With healthcare costs continuing to increase with each passing year, HSAs provide a welcome sense of financial preparedness for Americans planning for their retirements