Most people do not enjoy discussing healthcare—nor do they engage in independent healthcare research. As a result, many Americans are missing out on critical advice needed to prepare for retirement. For example, insurance is a frequent headache, as is navigating healthcare expenses. From prescriptions to doctors’ appointments to bills, each compounds the healthcare-scare. As retirement savers age, healthcare expenses will only grow—and yet knowledge of healthcare benefits is worryingly low. To successfully prepare participants for retirement, firms can address this knowledge gap by providing access to educational materials and resources on healthcare.

One way leading firms are tackling this issue is by leveraging healthcare educational hubs as a one-stop-shopping entry point to answer essential healthcare questions. As seen in Corporate Insight’s most recent report on Healthcare Resources Report (September 2023, subscription required), these hubs are providing “useful avenues for participants to accrue healthcare-related knowledge and prepare for both expected and unexpected expenses.” By expanding healthcare educational hubs, these firms are positioning healthcare as a cornerstone—rather than a footnote—of retirement planning and financial wellness.

HSAs remain an area of mystery to many participants

Cover of CI's September 2023 Workplace Finance Monitor ReportSome key findings from the report include research on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which are a vital tool for participants to lower their healthcare expenses through tax-advantaged saving, still remain murky to many. Voya’s 2023 Consumer Insights and Research survey found that between 2020 to 2023, participant understanding of HSAs remained low. In 2022, only 43% of survey respondents indicated that they knew HSAs could be used to pay for health care expenses in retirement. In 2023, that number increased marginal to 55%, suggesting that there is plenty more work to be done to educate retirement savers on their healthcare benefits. Remarks at PlanSponsor’s 2023 HSA conference reinforce this: a representative from Fidelity noted that despite 80% of surveyed employers offering an HSA, only 40% of participants were using the benefit. CI survey research meanwhile indicates that employee interest in HSAs is growing.
HSAs, while just one part of the solution, are continuing to grow in importance. Currently, efforts are being made by both firms and legislators to make HSAs even more valuable. The House Ways and Means committee recently proposed two bills, the HSA Modernization Act and HSA Improvement Act, which would raise the maximum contribution rate, expand eligibility and adjust contribution rules for spouses.

Tax-advantaged accounts, like HSAs, will only become more vital as the number of older Americans increase. Fidelity estimates that the average retiree in 2023 may need as much as $157,500 in healthcare expenses alone. Leveraging tax-advantaged accounts now will allow retirement savers to be better prepared for any unwelcome financial surprises down the road. Perhaps more importantly, an aging population signals that healthcare—as opposed to more traditional retirement savings goals, like travel, housing and quality of life maintenance—may become the heftiest price tag in retirement.

Healthcare educational hubs help with broad range of issues

In addition to underscoring the importance of HSAs, these healthcare educational hubs also spotlight critical health-related benefits that participants also need help navigating such as Medicare, choosing the optimal health insurance plan, or unique housing costs such as retirement homes or specialized nursing.

For a look at best practices when it comes to these hubs, Corporate Insight’s Healthcare Resources report found Fidelity’s robust “Learn” center to be a strong example of how firms can bridge the gap between healthcare and retirement saving. The educational hub features content that on a variety of topics in a centralized location. Participants can use filters to sort materials by topic, such as Healthcare or Investing, and type, like a Tool or Article. Importantly, the inclusion of healthcare information within a centralized hub cements healthcare planning as another cornerstone of financial wellness, rather than just a footnote.

A screenshot showing Fidelity's Learn Page
Fidelity Learn Page

In addition to several articles related to HSAs, participants can also find multimedia content on a variety of other healthcare topics, like Medicare and health insurance. Fidelity’s most unique offering, however, are their Life Event pages. Each dedicated Life Event features a roadmap with links to various resources for each step of the journey. The Health Care topic category highlights the Aging Well, Illness and Injury, and Caring for Aging Loved Ones event pages. For instance, the Caring for Aging Loved Ones divides resources into three sections: Preparing a Plan, Navigating Common Concerns and Tougher Topics. The page features information about Becoming a Caregiver, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Financial Fraud and Abuse, and more.

A screenshot showing Fidelity's caring for aging loved ones page
Caring for Aging Loved Ones

Each tile links to a dedicated resource page that delivers information in concise, digestible paragraphs with useful metrics and links to third-party educational platforms and tools. For instance, the Alzheimer’s and Dementia page helps participants learn how to distinguish between the two medical conditions and differentiate early signs of brain disease from regular symptoms of old age through helpful charts and definitions. The page also highlights accredited institutions like the Alzheimer’s Association, bolstering their own educational material with credible research. By offering in-depth information without jargon or dense explanations, Fidelity positions the Learn Center as a centralized hub for managing any potential obstacles across a range of topics.

A screenshot showing Fidelity Alzheimer’s and Dementia Page
Fidelity Alzheimer’s and Dementia Page

Fidelity’s robust Learn Center also reflects an industry-wide shift towards holistic financial planning that is further discussed in CI’s Evolution of Participant Sites report. Expanding educational resources—and the topics covered—allow firms to provide a comprehensive approach to financial wellness and planning. By preparing and educating retirement savers on healthcare now, firms can help them achieve their savings goals for the future. Education is key—and Fidelity offers an impressive example of how this can be done.

Madeleine Virginia Gannon
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Madeleine Virginia Gannon is an analyst on CI's retirement and workplace finance team.