|Vimo Report On Tax Benefits of Health Savings Accounts
Mountain View, California October 4, 2006 Vimo.com, the Internet’s leading healthcare comparison-shopping site, published a research report today that reveals wide disparity amongst the fees that HSA Banks charge their customers. The study also finds little correlation between high fees and high returns in HSAs, underlining the need for consumers to educate themselves and “shop around” before purchasing a new Health Savings Account. Higher fee structures appear to be correlated to higher service levels, and this will be the subject of a future report.
The Vimo Rankings Report is based on a sample of the top 84 companies that market HSAs (aka “HSA custodians”) for which data could be verified, which together represent roughly one-third of all HSA offerings available in the United States. Vimo’s research team gathered data through published materials, phone interviews and the Internet. While the Vimo website presents a broad range of comparative information on HSA companies and products, this new report focuses upon the quantitative areas of cost and interest rates offered in each Health Savings Account.
Consumers and businesses can use this Vimo Report to find the least expensive accounts offering the highest interest rates. “HSAs are a wonderful, triple-tax-advantaged savings vehicle… but they’re also a relatively new animal for most people,” Said Chini Krishnan, Vimo’s CEO. “They are not quite a savings account, not really a 401k. So it’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison among the hundreds of different offerings. It’s hard for people to make informed choices. We hope this Vimo Rankings Report makes choosing the right HSA a lot easier.”
The Vimo Rankings Report ranks the five HSA offerings in the country that offer the highest interest rates on typical account balances of $2,500. Some HSA custodians offer more complicated investment options such as mutual funds and money market accounts, but the focus of this report was on regular interest-bearing options. Patelco Credit Union’s HSA offering came in first place. Following Patelco, in order, are Exante Bank, Home State Bank, National City Bank, Bank of Cashton. The Vimo Report also ranks the nation’s most affordable (least expensive) HSAs. Topping that list is a seven-way tie: American Chartered Bank, Assurant Health, Black Hawk Bank, First American Bank, Gilmore Bank, Heartland Bank and Keystone Bank all sharing the honor of being named in the Vimo Report as the nation’s most-affordable Health Savings Accounts.
Five cost categories are included as criteria within the report: 1) annual fees; 2) account set-up fees; 3) monthly account maintenance fees; 4) transaction fees, and; 5) account closing fees. All of these cost categories show a massive variance across the 84 companies surveyed in the Vimo Report. For example, annual fees range from $0 all the way up to $185 per year, while account set-up fees range from $0 at the low end to $50 at the high end to set up a new HSA account.
There are also other types of Health savings run by the regular health plans, Golden rule, Cignet Health Plan, and lately other main health plans are following with their own medical savings account. The health plans principally operates the medical savings account. Visit www.cignethealth.com, these types also provide the tax free medical expenses and funds unused can be paid back to the participants.
The Vimo Report cautions consumers that with interest rates on HSA account balances currently topping-out at about 5%, it is important to realize that high fees can completely wipe out any financial growth over time. For example: an individual opens a new HSA and deposits $2,500. For the premier HSA offering in the Vimo report, the annual return would be +$113. But the same $2500 invested in another HSA in the report actually loses $121.
“The new Vimo Report primarily addresses cost and interest rates, which should be near the very top of everyone’s consideration list when choosing an HSA,” said Tom Cochrane, Vimo’s Vice President of Partners. “It does not factor in many of the qualitative aspects of services provided by HSA providers. Consumers should be aware that some HSA custodians are able to keep their fees low precisely because they provide relatively few extra services.” He continued, “It’s also important to realize that the ‘right’ HSA will be different depending on whether you tend to spend each year’s contributions, or save them. The inexpensive, high-return HSAs that we focus on in this Report are probably best for the ‘saver’.”
Vimo plans to publish updates on this Report, as well as additional reports on a quarterly basis. New reports will focus on different aspects of the fast-emerging Consumer Driven Health Care market. The reports will be designed specifically to help consumers and small businesses plan better, spend smarter and make the most of their healthcare dollar. Reports expected from Vimo in the near future will focus upon comparing the “softer” more qualitative service features of the hundreds of HSA offerings, and another report revealing the most expensive and most affordable hospitals in the major metropolitan markets.
About Health Savings Accounts
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a highly tax-advantaged savings account t5haqt is uysed to fund current and future health expenses. Contributions to HSAs are tax free, growth within the account is not taxed, and account withdrawals for qualified health expenditures are also tax free. HSAs must be coupled with a qualified High Deductible Health Plan. HSAs are an important part of the market trend towards Consumer-Driven Health Care, where individual consumers have a lot more control over how their dollars are spent. Furthermore, many people are not aware that HSAs can also act as a form of retirement account. Any money that remains in the account come retirement age can be withdrawn and used for any purpose, not just health expenditures, without penalty.
About Vimo’s HSA Listings
Vimo hosts an independent, objective list of HSA offerings and custodians at www.vimo.com, and while our own research staff regularly updates this list, companies can accelerate the dissemination of this information to consumers by filling out a simple HSA product information form and uploading the details of new HSA offerings directly to Vimo.
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