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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – As experts estimate that health care premiums will continue to be in the double digits, finding the right health care plan mix is at the top of many credit union HR departments’ to-do list. Credit unions are not alone. According to a recent Society of Human Resource Management Health Care Survey Report, some 75% of employers across the country changed their health care plan design in 2002 and 2003. Generally plan changes revolved around ways that could help reduce employer costs although HR professionals indicated concern for employee costs as well. The survey also finds that despite the Health Savings Account hype only 24% plan to offer it-indicating that more education efforts about the program are needed. HSAs are tax-advantaged savings plans available to individuals holding high deductible health plans and who otherwise qualify under the HSA rules. Participants may make tax-deductible contributions into an HSA up to certain limits and may take tax-free withdrawals to use for qualified medical expenses. NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker recently issued a letter in response to NCUA’s request for comment regarding proposed changes to sections 724 and 721.3(1) authorizing and pre-approving FCUs to serve as trustees or custodians to HSAs. “NAFCU supports NCUA’s proposed amendments to their rules and regulations giving credit unions the ability to serve as trustees or custodians to HSAs. NAFCU believes that the changes will provide parity for credit unions with other financial institutions and not force credit union members to shop elsewhere for such services,” stated Becker. “Furthermore NAFCU does not foresee any unfavorable or harmful effects to the operations of FCUs as a result of becoming trustees to HSAs. Credit unions have already had positive experiences with IRAs and other tax-advantaged savings plans and overwhelmingly welcome the opportunity to compete in the emerging HSA market.”

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