More than just a health savings account

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Health savings accounts (HSAs) are a savings opportunity for consumers. But they also can be a way for people to be more invested in their own health care.

When you’re the one paying the bill for routine care, you are more likely to do the research to find the provider that offers the value —  in cost and quality — that you need.

Tim Quitmeyer designs and administers employee benefit plans for a large company. He discusses how HSAs can empower health care consumers.

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Podcast transcript: More than just a health savings account


Podcast transcript:

Host: We have all heard about HSAs and why it’s important to have one.  But have you thought about how health savings accounts lead to more stable finances and help you take control of your health care costs? Those are the topics we are going to explore today on this podcast. I’m your host Veronica March from Optum Health. Here to shed some light on this topic is our special guest Tim Quitmeyer. Tim thanks for being here. Tell us about your job. 

Tim: I work for JLL, and JLL is professional and finance services firm that specializes in corporate real estate.  We are based in the US with our corporate headquarters and spread out throughout the globe. And I am the director of benefits and wellbeing for JLL’s employer benefit programs. JLL has over 22,000 employees in US and over 80,000 globally.   

Host: Managing benefits for such a large workforce must be challenging. Tell us how HSAs fit into today’s complicated health care landscape.

Tim: Yeah, so the landscape keeps changing and I what we really see it moving towards is companies trying to find ways to make employees more accountable and therefore take a bigger ownership of the costs associated with health care expenses, and that could range from anywhere from premium differences in the cost sharing that an employer does versus an employee. Or it can be in the design when you talk about deductibles and out of pocket maximums that an employee would have to spend before the plan would kick in. So it’s a great way for those employees to when they need health care needs and need those dollars to spend on their health care related needs, they’ll have the HSA to help pay those deductibles and out of pocket maximum expenses. So I think as the market shifts toward larger deductible type plans, these HSAs are going to be a backdrop and a savings opportunity for employees to feel comfortable that I might have a larger deductible but I do know that I do have a savings in place that can help me meet it if I have an event of any kind.

Host: That makes your role pivotal, so there are no surprises when it comes medical expenses. Tell us how you as a company prepare employees to contribute to their health savings accounts.

Tim: We want to make sure the employees understand what they are. We want to make sure they feel secure, and so when you look at HSA accounts, I think it does two things. It helps them deal and be a little more ownerous in what those health care decisions are because both the employer and employee have a responsibility to make that they try to keep health care costs down. I think that is a thing across the country we deal with and that we have to be more involved in individually. But then it’s also about building the security for your own self and making sure that you are not just thinking about now, you are thinking about the future. Because when you look at your medical needs and when you get to retirement, they are very scary. And you need to have some kind of security there for yourself to make that you are not going to be left out there by yourself.  

Host: So, HSAs are a way to keep costs down because you believe that consumers think more carefully when spending their own health care dollars.

Tim: It’s just again, a great way for employees to be accountable, be more invested in the cost of health care. Because if they are writing the check, they are going to be a little more conscience about well, am I going to go to get an X-ray that my doctor is telling me is down the hall, but it’s $1000 vs. am I going to try to go do a little research and possibly find this X-ray is going to cost me $500 down the street. So I think there is the consumerism piece and the employees ownership in those decisions also affects how health care dollars are spent.

Host: For you personally you are not just an administrator for your company you actually invest in the same HSA as the rest of your colleagues at JLL. 

Tim: I have an HSA because I believe in planning for your retirement. I believe in making sure that you have the right resources and the right support to help you get through your life.  And I also have an HSA because I like to save money and this is a great opportunity for me not to have to pay taxes on that.

Host: For anybody who has not started an HSA yet, it really is about more than just health care spending, isn’t it?  

Tim: It goes beyond that. It looks at your financial needs and what you can do to make sure that you are taking advantage of those things because nobody wants to pay more taxes then they have to so by the pure simple fact that I’m going to be a smart investor, I’m going to sack some money away into an HSA account and the great other benefit is that you are building and protecting yourself for the future could be the near future could be down the road for retirement. You have the ability to kind of put different plans in place to spend and have a savings account for your immediate needs for your health care expenses should they come about in the next year. And put together a retirement plan for the long term needs for yourself and your family.

Host: It’s never too soon to start planning for retirement, is it?  Thanks for the great advice in using HSAs to build more a more secure financial portfolio.  We appreciate you offering your expertise on this podcast.  To learn more visit OptumBank.com.