Why the “one size fits all” marketing approach doesn’t work with HSAs – Part 1

Even as health savings accounts (HSAs) continue to see double digit year-over-year growth, many financial organizations are reluctant to offer or even see the value of offering HSAs. On the surface, it appears that HSAs are just “spending” accounts that offer limited value for the amount of work they are to administer. Dig deeper into the HSA market, and you realize that not all HSA owners are the same and each require different service based on how they use their HSAs. We’ve identified four types of HSA owners that use their accounts differently: the FSA user, HSA user, HSA saver, and HSA investor. Understanding these personas is the key to better positioning your organization to attract and retain HSA owners from all of the HSA owner types and to help grow your business. The FSA user and HSA user, discussed in this first of a two-part series, benefit most from early HSA education to maximize their savings potential.

The FSA User

Many individuals (especially those who are in the FSA user persona) have common misconceptions about HSAs. One common misconception is that HSAs are just like flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and FSA users use them as they would their FSA. They only contribute what they plan to spend within the year (or only what their employer contributes to their HSA for the year) and use it all by the end of that year. Often these individuals do not have a lot of disposable income to put away extra in their HSAs. You may be quick to dismiss this cohort all together as their “revolving door” transactions offer a lot of work while they’re account balances generally see no year over year growth. But it would be unwise to dismiss them all together. The debit card transactions actually generate revenue for your organization (increases with the number of swipes)

The HSA User

This persona is a step up from the FSA user. They have some HSA education and realize that HSAs don’t have a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision.  They also use their HSA for all of their qualified medical expenses, but they contribute more than the FSA user leaving some money left in the HSA offering marginal year over year growth. Like the FSA user, this cohort makes significant debit card swipes, which generates revenue for your organization in addition to account fees that you may charge. With this persona, education continues to be key for the same reasons as with the FSA user. This persona also has the added potential of savings and investment opportunity as they become more educated on HSA benefits and uses and move into HSA saver or HSA investor personas, which will be discussed in the second part of this article).


For the FSA user and HSA user to move out of these persona types, they will need more disposable income (from job changes, promotions, etc.) and HSA education, which presents an opportunity for your organization. As they transition out of these personas, they likely will be loyal to the organization that educated them on HSA rules and also offers a one-stop-shop for other financial services they may need. Think of HSAs not just as a single account, but as the consumer potential. It may start off as one account, but the opportunity is there with that one individual to sell other banking products—retirement, lending, and investments. Creating the relationship through one account (literally) can pay dividends in the future.

Next Steps

The second installment of this article will describe the HSA saver and HSA investor personas and what opportunities these personas bring to your financial organization.

Trish Reilley

Trish Reilley

Trish Reilley is a technical writer at Ascensus. Her work also includes researching, writing, and editing a variety of topics on IRAs, HSAs, and employer-sponsored retirement plans. She started with ... Web: www.ascensus.com Details