Welcome to 2023! The new year brings a renewed focus on losing weight, staying healthy, and becoming financially healthier. Across the country, millions of us have set goals of increasing our health and wealth. However, inflation, supply chain issues, continued mental health challenges, and more can make tackling these goals even harder than usual.
Financial Health Resolutions
Many Americans are examining their spending and saving habits. Fidelity Investment found that when asked about financial concerns, U.S. adults reported the following goals.
- Spend less (28%)
- Pay down debt (32%)
- Save money (39%)
Here are some ways that employers can use employee benefit accounts to help their workforce meet their personal goals in these areas. Doing so can increase the company’s ability to attract and retain quality employees while enhancing workforce engagement and productivity.
In response to inflation, many people are switching to generic brands, eliminating their morning latte routines, and reducing the number of dinners out. Others have had to make more stressful choices.
One way to help employees spend less is by sponsoring tax-advantaged, consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) accounts. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) reduce employees’ taxes on the amounts set aside for healthcare expenses. Anyone can contribute to an HSA, including the employee, a relative, and the sponsoring employer. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) are funded solely by the sponsoring employer.
Paying Down Debt
Debt can be stressful in the best of times, and rising interest rates will make it harder to pay down. Many employers have found that offering a Student Loan Repayment Assistance (SLRA/SLRP) program can be very effective. Sponsoring FSA and HSA plans helps employees save an average of 30% in payroll taxes on the amounts they set aside, freeing up funds they can apply to debt. Finally, Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) can pay for financial education classes and apps.
Employers who sponsor Emergency Savings Accounts (ESA) redirect a portion of net pay for participating employees into designated savings accounts that the employees own. Money that never hits their primary bank account is usually easier to save for the long term. For those employees who own an HSA, any funds unspent at the end of the year roll over and build up savings. That balance can further grow through investing when that becomes a viable option.
Mental and Physical Health Resolutions
Many people are looking for an overall health reset to move on successfully from too much stress, not enough exercise, COVID-delayed health screenings, and similar factors. Employer-sponsored benefits can help!
Caring for Mental Health
Just about everyone struggles with anxiety or depression at some point. Traditional group health plans may help short-term with an Employee Assistance Program component and prescription coverage. Healthcare benefit accounts can help with expenses not covered by traditional health plans. From using an LSA to pay for meditation and sleep relief apps to using an FSA for counseling copays, employees are better able to access needed mental health care.
Caring for Physical Health
A lack of regular physical activity can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition to lower productivity, sleep deprivation can lead to employee weight gain, mental health issues, and more. Employees appreciate LSAs designed to help pay the costs of gym memberships and healthy food delivery. In addition, if a letter of medical necessity is available, FSA and HSA funds can help cover the cost of medical weight loss programs.
Employees who may be struggling to resume a regular sleep schedule may greatly benefit from LSAs that cover sleep assistance apps and supplements. FSAs and HSAs cover many over-the-counter sleep medications.