Monies in Health Savings Accounts Almost Double In First Months Of 2006: Banks Report Robust Increases In Number Of Accounts, Deposits

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Many institutions said they reached very lofty first quarter marketing goals for HSA custodial accounts while reporting tremendous growth in account deposits. The survey indicates that total HSA custodial deposits reached almost $2.1 billion dollars by March 31st. This represented a jump from the $1.1 billion dollars in HSA accounts as of the end of 2005.

Many institutions said they reached very lofty first quarter marketing goals for HSA custodial accounts while reporting tremendous growth in account deposits in an exclusive survey by Information Strategies Inc. (ISI)

The survey indicates that total HSA custodial deposits reached almost $2.1 billion dollars by March 31st. This represented a jump from the $1.1 billion dollars in HSA accounts as of the end of 2005.

Deposits from reporting banks averaged $1,407 per account as depositors made significant contributions in the days leading up to the April 15th tax filing date. The average of reporting banks at the end of 2005 was $1,102 per account.

With more than 100 banks surveyed, ISI estimates that the total HSA accounts at the end of the quarter were 1.5 million covering an estimated 3.3 million Americans. This represents a jump of 400,000 accounts from year-end 2005 estimates.

According to JoAnn M. Laing, ISI’s President, the results are in line with the company’s projections for HSA insurance and account custodian estimates made after the December survey.

“We are seeing a tremendous growth in this sector as HSAs reach the next plateau as a viable Consumer Directed Healthcare (CDH) option,” she added.

Among the other findings from the survey, according to Laing and her staff, is the fact that a significant majority of responding banks are seeing an increase in both the number of accounts and the number of dollars in those accounts.

Survey respondents also said they were seeing significant shifts in depositors from one banking institution to another. This finding echoed results from ISI’s user survey results. In that study completed in March, many of the 2,000-plus respondents cited interest rates and customer service as key factors in their overall perception of custodians.

Specific banks that clients switching accounts helped to power the reported growth include American Chartered Bank, Great Western Bank and Home Federal.

Among the growth leaders is Tower Bank and Trust. "At the end of 2005, it had more than 650 accounts and $600,000 in deposits. At the end of March 2006, the Fort Wayne, IN, bank, had in excess of 2,600 accounts with more than $2 million in deposits." The trend towards reduced administrative/transaction fees as well as offering investment options were also reported during the survey process. No bank in the survey reported raising administrative/transaction fees.

Among the banks reporting their marketing strategies was Blackhawk Bank. The Beloit, WI, bank touted its approach to HSAs. “We treated HSAs as a personal product and treat our depositors as such,” said Paula Hartzel, a bank spokesperson.

ISI also noticed that in comparing the account numbers to the 2005 end-of-year-study, which asked for estimates, most of the banks are meeting their expectations. Though they gave big estimates in the previous study, many appear to be meeting these estimates. In many cases, banks have reported doubling their number of accounts or more.

Information Strategies, Inc. (http://www.is-incorp.com) is a media and marketing company serving the health care and business market sectors. Its website, http://www.hsafinder.com is the largest independent website in the HSA sector serving more than 185,000 subscribers with its award-winning newsletter, Healthcare & You.

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Donald Mazzella

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