Health Spending Accounts vs. Personal Spending Accounts: Making Informed Benefits Choices

Health Spending Accounts vs. Personal Spending Accounts: Making Informed Benefits Choices

  October 27, 2023

SEB Marketing Team

In the complex landscape of group benefits plans, two increasingly popular options are gaining attention: Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) and Personal Spending Accounts (PSAs). These versatile tools provide unique benefits that cater to the diverse needs of both large and small market organizations. Let’s dive into the differences between HSAs and PSAs, outlining their features and functionalities to help HR and Benefits Professionals make informed decisions about which plan might align best with their company’s objectives.

Health Spending Accounts (HSAs)

Wide Array of Eligible Expenses: HSAs are designed to cover a broad spectrum of healthcare expenses. This can include dental care, massages, prescription medications, vision care, paramedical services like physiotherapy, and many other services that may not be included in regular benefit plans.

Tax Benefits: Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible for the employer and are not considered taxable income for employees. This tax advantage can be an attractive feature for both employers and employees.

Flexibility and Customization: Employers can customize the coverage and contribution limits to align with their budget and employees’ needs. This flexibility ensures that the plan is tailored to the specific requirements of the organization.

No Monthly Premiums: HSAs don’t typically require monthly premiums, offering cost savings for both employers and employees. Instead, expenses are reimbursed based on claims submitted by employees.

Personal Spending Accounts (PSAs)

Coverage for Non-Traditional Medical Expenses: PSAs offer reimbursement for a wide range of medical expenses that might not be covered by traditional health insurance plans or HSAs. This can include alternative therapies, annual memberships to fitness centres, child and eldercare services, wellness services, or even home office equipment for employees working remotely.

Tax Efficiency: Similar to HSAs, PSAs offer tax advantages. Employer contributions are considered tax-deductible business expenses, while employee reimbursements are non-taxable.

Choice and Empowerment: PSAs empower employees by allowing them to choose how they spend their allocated funds. While an annual membership to a gym might be ideal for certain employees, child-care or pet-care expenses might be what is needed for others. This flexibility can enhance employee satisfaction and access to the work-life balance they seek.

Cost Control: Employers can set annual limits on PSA contributions, providing budget predictability while still offering an appealing benefit.

Which One Is Right for Your Organization?

The choice between HSAs and PSAs depends on your organization’s specific needs, goals, and the preferences of your employees. Here are some considerations:

  • If you want to expand coverage for traditional healthcare expenses not typically covered by regular benefit plans, HSAs might be the better choice.
  • If you’re looking to offer employees flexibility in choosing how to spend their allocated funds, PSAs may be more appealing.
  • For a comprehensive benefits approach, some organizations choose to combine both HSAs and PSAs in their benefits package, allowing employees to address a wide spectrum of health-related needs.

In summary, both Health Spending Accounts and Personal Spending Accounts offer valuable benefits and can play a vital role in enhancing your group benefits plan. It’s essential to weigh the specific needs of your organization and the preferences of your employees when making your selection. The right choice can lead to a more engaged and satisfied workforce while meeting the unique healthcare requirements of your team.

SEB is Canada’s leader in providing benefits administration solutions to over 400,000 plan members from Canadian companies. You can check out the full suite of SEB’s solutions including a customized personal spending account solution here.