Employees Reap Benefits of Health Savings Accounts
Release Date: 05/06/2008

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Three Years of Data Finds Strong Participation, Better Health and Lower Costs OMAHA, Neb. – There is little debate among the 9,000 employees of Alegent Health in Omaha, Neb. about the value of consumer-driven health care. More than 90 percent of Alegent Health employees have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) saving them money, changing risky lifestyles and putting them in the driver’s seat of their health care. Alegent Health offers two HRA accounts and two HSA accounts from which employees can choose. The organization’s PPO plan remains in place although it is not the plan of choice for employees. Now in its third year, employee participation in the consumer-driven health plans has grown to 92 percent, which is well above the national average. The first year of the plan, 79 percent of employees chose either the HSA or HRA plans. That number grew to 88 percent in year two and reached an all-time high in 2007. “Offering HSAs and HRAs wasn’t enough to really engage employees to take control of their health and health care,” said Wayne Sensor, CEO of Alegent Health. “So we decided to offer two important features to our health care plan – preventive care is free and employees (and their dependents) are incented to change behaviors that place their health at risk.” Careful monitoring of health, behavior, engagement, decisions and costs has revealed interesting and powerful results:
  • Nearly 7 percent of the Alegent Health health care dollar is spent on prevention, compared to the national average of 2.3 percent.
  • Nearly 40 percent of our employees take an annual personal health risk assessment and earn $100.
  • More than 500 Alegent Health employees have quit smoking over the past two years.
  • Employees are taking advantage of Alegent Health’s weight management program – losing more than 13,000 pounds over the last two years.
  • “Those are changes that count,” said Sensor. “Our employees are leading healthier, happier lives; and our health care costs are climbing at a much slower pace than the national average.” While the nation has experienced an 8 percent claims trend increase over the past two years, Alegent Health’s increase has come in lower at 5.1percent. Yet data shows that employees with Health Savings Accounts showed the highest level of engagement in their health care.
  • More than 45 percent of HSA participants completed a health risk assessment compared to just 16 percent in our PPO plan.
  • Nearly 65 percent of pharmacy prescriptions for HSA participants were filled with the less expensive generic drugs, compared to 56 percent in the PPO plan. Furthermore, 96 percent of the time a generic substitution was available, the HSA participant chose the generic prescription.
  • Nearly 67 percent of those enrolled in the HSA plan used Alegent Health’s informational web tools during the year compared to 35 percent in the PPO plan.
  • As a result, HSA members experienced significantly lower costs with nine percent of their health care dollars being spent on preventive care compared to just 2.5 percent in the PPO plan. At the same time, claims from HSA members dropped 15 percent between 2006 and 2007. The trend among Alegent Health employees is the higher the salary the more likely they are to participate in an HSA although 15 percent of employees who earn up to $50,000 a year are enrolled in an HSA. That percentage grows to 20 percent for those earning up to $75,000; 36 percent at $100,000; and 42 percent above $100,000. All employees enrolled in the HSA program each receive a $100 contribution from Alegent Health each year. In addition, they can receive Health Rewards up to $600 per year to fund their HSA Accounts. Employees earning less than $25,000 a year are contributing an average of $1,400 to their HSAs in 2008. Those earning less than $50,000 are contributing an average of nearly $2,000 while those making more than $100,000 are paying in an average of $4,000. “When people feel like they are paying for health care they become more engaged and more likely to shop around,” said Sensor. “From my view, that’s the way it should be. What other good or service in this country do Americans purchase without knowing how good it is and how much it costs? We should encourage health care consumers to shop around for care that provides them the highest quality at the most reasonable cost. It’s working for Alegent Health’s 9,000 employees who are not only engaged in their health care – they are invested in it.” About Alegent Health Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is making healthcare better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems.