HSAs become more popular

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 13, 2009

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The number of health savings accounts increased, and the amount of money held by them grew in 2008, according to a recent report published by Celent, an international financial consulting firm.

Researchers surveyed 14 institutions offering these types of accounts, with results measured from January 2008 to January 2009. The number of HSAs grew 46.1% to just more than 8 million accounts. The amount of assets held by HSAs grew by 62.6%.

But the average account went up only 13%, to $1,561. Researchers attributed the relatively low growth rate to 18% of all HSAs having no funds in them whatsoever over the 12-month period. They said that's because a "relatively high" number of accounts came online in January 2009, while some banks failed to purge inactive accounts.

Analysts expect HSAs to become more popular and to survive in some form through currently discussed health care reform. They also expect associated fees to decrease or be eliminated.

"HSA pricing continues to decline, with average collected monthly fees now hovering just above the $2 mark," said Red Gillen, report author and a senior analyst with Celent's banking group. "In fact, some HSA players are even preparing for the eventuality when HSAs go the way of checking accounts. In other words, free," he said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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