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With companies looking to stem rising health care costs, J.P. Morgan has recently issued a report titled “Best Practices for Implementing a Health Savings Account Program.” The white paper provides a step-by-step guide for employers that want to offer an HSA program to employees. Credit unions’ interest in offering HSAs to their members has grown in the last couple of years. According to the report, a growing number of companies are finding that the addition of an HSA option to their health care benefits menu provides a practical solution to health insurance challenges. By year-end 2008, there were an estimated three million HSAs with deposits of over $3 billion, and the number of HSA accounts is expected to quadruple by 2012. “HSAs provide an affordable health insurance option and continue to grow in popularity,” said David Josephs, head of consumer-directed health care at J.P. Morgan. “This report shares the lessons learned in areas that have resulted in successful programs for many of our clients and provides a framework to ensure that a company’s benefit offering is competitive in the marketplace and offers the best value for both the employees and the company.” To meet short- and long-term goals, the report suggests that companies design plans that are simple to understand, easy to use, provide 100% coverage for preventative care services, offer a line of credit to cover any unexpected medical expenses, include employer contribution and promote employee education on health care costs. In addition, companies should plan for future design modifications and incentives for positive behavior changes. “Employers that contribute to HSAs demonstrate their commitment to an HSA program, which can be further reinforced by developing programs to engage and educate employees about the spending and saving advantages of HSAs,” stated the report. The report also found that communication is key to success. An employee communications plan rolled out in advance of the actual enrollment period allows employees time to fully understand the new benefits. –[email protected]

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