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HSAs Seen As Viable Alternative For Rising Healthcare Benefit Programs

With healthcare reform moving ever closer, small business leaders are starting to seek alternatives in terms of healthcare benefits and other ways of maintaining employee morale. 

Particularly disheartening to many employees is the fact that public sector staff often have better benefits than their private sector counterparts. 

The average benefit cost for public sector staffs are about 30% higher overall than private sector employees.  This situation is a tribute to the public employee unions but across the nation, push back efforts are accelerating.

In a survey conducted by this newsletter's parent, Information Strategies, Inc., 59% of 1,112 small employers across the nation said they expected total healthcare costs to increase starting in 2011, even though most of the healthcare provisions do not kick in until 2012 and beyond. 

In Massachusetts, whose state mandated program closely mimics the proposed reforms, rates for small businesses jumped more than 13% according to The Wall Street Journal.

The same survey a larger majority (71%) reported they were putting more of the company's healthcare costs on employees. 

Experts predict that this year, more than 3 million Americans will switch, either voluntarily or by company fiat, to Consumer Directed Healthcare options. These programs, Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are usually less expensive than more traditional plans such as Preferred Provider Offerings (PPOs) and Health Maintenance Offerings (HMOs).

Many business leaders report they are very concerned about the long-term effects of the changing healthcare world, a situation that will be played out in November elections