Health Savings Accounts and Employers: A Tool to Slow Health Plan Cost Increases

Event ID:15365

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DL Only                 $349.00 includes DL and materials
Duration: 90 minutes including question and answer period.
Presenter: Christine Williams, founder, Health Plan Plain Talk
Price: $349.00, DL includes full audio presentation, question and answer session, and presentation slides.
CE Credits: This program has been approved for 1.5 general recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute. This program is valid for 1.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.
Who Should Attend? HR, employee benefits, financial officers, in-house counsel, and CEOs

As employee health care costs continue to increase, employers are looking for ways to continue to offer quality health benefits but hold the line on costs. Adding a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) plus a health savings account (HSA) option may provide employees with a valuable benefit while providing the employer with methods to reduce costs, or at least reduce the rate of cost increases. An HDHP is usually less expensive than traditional non-HDHP coverage, allowing an employer to reduce costs, while HSAs offer a triple tax benefit–employer and employee contributions can be tax-free, interest and investment earnings accrue tax-free, and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free. In addition, at age 65 and after, HSA money may be withdrawn tax-free, for any purpose, making the HSA a supplement to retirement savings for some employees. HSAs are also fully portable–the account assets belong to the employee even if the employee changes jobs. Many employers and employees are taking advantage of the potential benefits of HSAs: In 2015, there were over 18 million HSAs with a total of over $30 billion in assets.

HSAs are generally simpler and less expensive for employers to administer than other health care reimbursement vehicles such as health flexible spending accounts (health FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). If an HSA program is properly designed, it will not be subject to ERISA and its many administrative, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements. But there are administrative requirements for employers that wish to add HSAs to their employees’ health coverage choices, including contribution limits, a requirement that the employee have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and no non-HDHP coverage, and limits on how much involvement the employer can have in selecting HSA vendors and investments.

Please join Christine Williams as she discusses the specifics of how HSAs work, problems to avoid, and whether they are right for your business and its employees.


Just a sampling of what will be covered:

  • How can offering an HDHP and an HSA potentially save employers money?
  • How does an employer go about offering HSAs to employees and avoiding ERISA obligations?
  • Who is eligible for an HSA?
  • Does the employer have to contribute to employees’ HSA?
  • What are the HSA contribution limits?
  • Can employers decide how much they want to contribute to employees’ HSAs?
  • Can employers and employees contribute to HSAs through a cafeteria plan?
  • What is a HDHP? What other health coverage would make an employee ineligible for an HSA?
  • Does Medicare or VA eligibility affect HSA eligibility?
  • If an employer inadvertently contributes too much to an employee’s HSA, can the employer get the excess money back?


Your conference leader for “Health Savings Accounts and Employers: A Tool to Slow Health Plan Cost Increases” is Christine Williams. Ms. Williams has worked in the employee benefits field since 1987, both in private practice and as in-house counsel to a Fortune 100 company, and recently founded, an online resource for benefit plan sponsors and employee benefit professionals. She has extensive experience with all types of health and welfare plans, and was the editor and a contributing author of HIPAA Portability, Privacy, & Security, published by the Employee Benefits Institute of America (EBIA), a division of Thomson Reuters, and is now a contributor to that publication. She was a contributing author of Health Care Reform for Employers and Advisors, also published by EBIA. She has provided advice on HIPAA, health care reform, and benefit plan compliance to a wide range of health plans, employers that sponsor health plans, and business associates, and she regularly teaches seminars for employee benefit professionals. Before moving into employee benefits, Ms. Williams was a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. She earned her J.D. degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law.


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