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SAN FRANCISCO — When it comes to Health Savings Accounts a new Celent report finds that slow and steady is still the best way to win the race. HSAs are tax-free, portable savings accounts that can be used to pay for medical expenses including prescription and over-the-counter drugs incurred by individuals, spouses or dependents. These accounts are accompanied by high-deductible comprehensive insurance policies that cover preventive care and larger medical bills. Unused HSA money rolls over from year to year and can then be used to pay for medical care up to the plan’s deductible.

So far, despite the high projected expectations, for most, HSA growth has been impeded by the fact that all providers involved, including employers, have underestimated what a monumental transition the HDHP-HSA represents. Celent found that they wrongly assumed that, because employees weathered the transition from defined benefit to defined contribution plans so well, they would naturally embrace self-direction in healthcare. As result, there has been inadequate pre-and post-sale education, insufficient decision-making tools, and limited employer funding of accounts. Consumers are overwhelmed by the choices and are unable to conduct an adequate cost/benefit analysis.

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