AHIP survey: Enrollment in HSA plans continues to grow

Nearly 20.2 million people were enrolled in HSA/HDHPs as of January 2016, up from about 19.7 million in 2015. (Getty/Melpomenem)

As Republicans mull Affordable Care Act replacement ideas that would put greater emphasis on health savings accounts, a new survey shows that enrollment in HSA-qualified high-deductible health plans continued to rise in 2016.

Nearly 20.2 million people were enrolled in HSA/HDHPs as of January 2016, up from about 19.7 million in 2015, according to the survey, which was conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans. There was a greater increase, however, between 2014 and 2015—with enrollment jumping to 19.7 million from nearly 17.4 million.

In addition, only 59 health insurance companies participated in the AHIP survey for 2016, down from 64 in 2015 after also having dropped each of the prior years leading back to 2012.

AHIP, though, points out that “HSAs have enjoyed consistent growth since they were originally offered to consumers in 2005,” and that continued enrollment growth is expected in the years to come.

Here are some additional findings from the survey:

  • The vast majority of enrollees in HSA/HDHPs—78%—were in the large-group market in 2016, a trend that is consistent with previous years. In 2016, 11% of enrollees were in the individual market, while 12% were in the small-group market.
  • In 2016, 41% of plans that participated in AHIP’s survey reported their HSA/HDHP total plan enrollments between 100,001 and 1,000,000. That’s up from 36% in 2015.
  • In terms of product type, 66% of HSA/HDHP enrollees had a PPO plan in 2016, while 31% had an HMO/POS.
  • Of the 52 health insurers that answered survey questions regarding consumer decision-support tools offered to their HSA/HDHP enrollees, 98% said they offered enrollees access to health and wellness resources; 87% gave enrollees access to information on their health savings account, 67% supplied them with their personal health record; and 75% provided healthcare cost information.

Both President Donald Trump and new Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have advocated for greater use of HSAs, and they also factor into a recently unveiled healthcare plan from GOP leaders in Congress.

Yet some argue that HSA/HDHP plans could lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for patients with chronic conditions.