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An HSA Story: Multilingual employee benefits education

September 28, 2022

While health savings accounts (HSAs) can be used for saving, spending, and investing, many HSA participants are simply using the accounts to save on their needs today. Valeria Sauceda, senior implementation manager at WEX, comes from a family full of previous and current HSA users who leaned on these accounts specifically for spending to save on expenses such as copays and dentist appointments. Her experience growing up in a Spanish-speaking family also gives her a unique perspective on additional challenges some HSA participants face. Keep reading to learn more or watch our Benefits podcast episode below.

HSA funds for everyday expenses

Valeria and her family typically use their HSA funds for everyday expenses. Dental, vision, copayments, and over-the-counter medication costs can add up quickly, so Valeria is thankful she can use her HSA to cover all of these eligible expenses. With inflation in the U.S. at just over 9 percent, the HSA tax-savings advantage is a great way to offset rising prices. In fact, individuals with HSAs can save approximately $30 for every $100 spent on medical expenses.

An advocate for HSAs

Similar to many other individuals choosing their benefits plans each year, Valeria and her family struggled to understand their benefits choices and the differences between the plans being offered. Once she began working on the implementation team at WEX, Valeria began to learn more about the advantages of an HSA. She became a major advocate of HSAs and shared her newfound knowledge with her family, especially with her aunts who are nearing retirement age. Valeria explained how her aunts can use their HSA for retirement funds, similar to a 401(k). Considering the average couple will spend over $350,000 on healthcare costs in retirement, the savings and investment potential of an HSA is a major perk.

Open enrollment language barriers

Open enrollment can be confusing for many people, especially if English isn’t your primary language. Spanish is the primary language for many members of Valeria’s family, which unfortunately means they face many challenges when it comes to open enrollment and benefits education because of the lack of Spanish-language resources.

“It’s been a hurdle for many of my aunts and uncles to even understand what their employer is offering when it comes to health insurance and health benefits … not having the material and resources that they need to explain [benefits] whether on a piece of paper or from an HR representative really limits them in knowing what their best options are,” Sauceda said.

Multilingual benefits resources

Whether it’s informational material about HSAs or learning the difference between HSAs and FSAs, it’s incredibly important that all employees have the resources they need to make educated decisions about their benefits choices.

So what can employers and HR leaders do during open enrollment to help employees whose primary language isn’t English? 

“HR should ask their administrator or insurance company for resources. Do they have anything in different languages?” said Sauceda. “And make it an open door policy with employees. Ask them if they understand. And if they don’t, they can come to you.”

HSA Day is October 15! Learn more about the benefits of an HSA.

The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel. 

WEX receives compensation from some of the merchants identified in its blog posts. By linking to these products, WEX is not endorsing these products.

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