Implementing a Health Savings Account (HSA) Program: The Top Eight Mistakes to Avoid

Implementing a HSA program takes plenty of skill and knowledge. Avoiding the eight mistakes below will help ensure that your program is one of unprecedented success.

 

By Alliance Credit Union

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Implementing a HSA program takes plenty of skill and knowledge. Avoiding the eight mistakes below will help ensure that your program is one of unprecedented success.

Mistake No. 1
Not Defining Your Strategy
The HSA market continues to evolve despite current political uncertainties. Boston-based financial research and consulting firm, Celent, predicts HSA growth will be 40 - 50 percent over the next five years. This will result in 12.5 million accounts by 2012.

Insurance companies, national HSA banks, national non-bank HSA administrators, local banks and credit unions are in head-to-head competition for their share of this market. The strategy you follow is key to your competitive positioning. You need to define it based on your credit unions overall strategy, the HSA industry in your footprint and your capabilities.

Mistake No. 2
Not Assigning a Business Owner to Your HSA Program
If you are serious about entering the HSA market, someone at your credit union must be assigned to take responsibility and drive the project to a successful conclusion. The ideal person is one who will have a stake in the project and the determination to make it succeed.

Mistake No. 3
Not Establishing an Inter-Departmental Team
Implementing a HSA program means that the majority of departments within your credit union will need to be involved. The HSAs cut across sales (teller and member business development), operations, technology, marketing and senior management. All members of the HSA program team need to be educated about HSAs, their relationship to High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and the part they play in consumer-driven healthcare. Each member of the team will have responsibility in bringing a successful HSA program to fruition.

Mistake No. 4
Not Building Enough Healthcare Expertise
It's not enough to educate yourself and your team on HSAs. Many parties are involved in the healthcare business; some are related to HSAs and others are not. Developing your healthcare knowledge also includes staying on top of regulatory, political and industry-related issues and what effect changes in these areas may have on your HSA program.

Mistake No. 5
Not Educating Those Affected by HSAs
With a HSA account, consumers can keep whatever money they do not use. Spending your own money on your healthcare encourages you to be more prudent with your dollars. Because consumers have to take responsibility for their healthcare spending, you and your colleagues will be on the receiving end of many questions.

It is imperative that your team and clients are continually educated about your products. You must be quick to answer any questions, simple or complex. Proactively educating your team and clients will pay dividends for your HSA program.

Mistake No. 6
Thinking You Can “Go at it Alone”
Partnerships are key. This is one product in which the credit union is not the only participant, so partnering with carriers/payers, brokers/consultants, benefit administrators/third party administrators and employers will be essential. The types of partners you need will relate to the strategy you define. Consider partners who have experience, market knowledge and a team of knowledgeable HSA associates to support you during the process of entering the healthcare banking arena.

Mistake No. 7
Not Thinking about Scalability
Don't forget about the scalability of your HSA program in your planning process. Ensure that your system can handle sudden increases in volume, particularly around the beginning of the year.

Mistake No. 8
Not Thinking About the Client Experience
Consumers can be easily overwhelmed with so many choices. The consumer is the HSA end-user, so you must focus on their needs. Keep it simple. There are many different touch points for the consumer in their experience of moving to an HDHP and HSA. Make sure the HSA experience offers all the tools for the enrollee to understand, use and access the HSA account.

About Open Solutions Inc.
Open Solutions Inc. offers a fully-featured strategic information management product platform that integrates core data processing applications built on a single, centralized Oracle relational database, with Internet banking, cash management, CRM/business intelligence, financial accounting and management tools, profitability tools, wealth management, imaging, digital documents, interactive voice response, network services, HSAs, payments and loan origination solutions.

Open Solutions' full suite of products and services allows credit unions to better compete in today's aggressive financial services marketplace, and expand and tap their trusted financial relationships, member affinity, community presence and personalized service.

For more information about Open Solutions or its financial product line, contact Mickey Goldwasser by email at mgoldwasser@opensolutions.com or by phone at 860.652.3153 or via fax at 860.652.3156. Visit Open Solutions' Internet site at www.opensolutions.com .

 

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May 12, 2008


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