Comparing HSA Providers in Canada -
There are alternatives to Olympia Benefits
Calgary-based Olympia Benefits is the largest HSA provider in Canada, having been in business for over 20 years. Customer reviews of Olympia Benefits also appear favorable. But Olympia isn’t the only game in town, and it certainly isn’t the only company worth considering.
The best HSA provider for your business depends on your business’s needs.
How to Compare HSA Providers in Canada.
Health Spending Accounts in Canada are fundamentally different from those in the United States where they act as employee-owned savings and investment vehicles. In Canada HSAs are simpler in both design and function. Here, they are strictly a means of converting employee health expenses into a tax-deductible business expense. This tax break is designed to encourage and enable employers of all size to offer affordable employee health benefit plans.
As a result of their simplicity, HSA providers in Canada can be compared using a few basic criteria:
1. What is their pricing structure?
Factors to consider when comparing pricing across HSA providers:
- Pay-per-use (‘cost-plus’) or subscription? All HSA providers charge either an administration fee per claim (for example we charge 5% of approved claims), an annual subscription fee, or both. Pay-per-use (otherwise known as ‘cost-plus’) plans typically charge in the range of 5%-10%. If you plan on submitting a lot of claims each year, an annual subscription fee might make the most sense. But keep in mind that even a $100 subscription fee would be equivalent to $2000 worth of submitted claims using a cost-plus plan (at only a 5% admin fee). Some HSA providers charge both pay-per-use and annual subscription fees, which allows them to artificially reduce their pay-per-use fee. Another downside of a subscription fee is that it will necessarily lock you into a yearly contract.
- Is the full pricing structure clearly indicated? There are a variety of ways that HSA providers generate revenue, and this information is not always clearly displayed. In addition to pay-per-use and/or annual subscription fees, additional charges can include set-up fees, fees to add or remove employees from the plan, transaction fees for each employee reimbursement, add-on insurance fees, and contract termination penalties. At EasyHSA we have only one fee: our 5% administration fee.
- Is there a minimum benefit size required per employee? Requiring employers to offer higher employee benefit levels is an indirect way for HSA providers to increase their fees.
2. Pay-as-you-go or up-front deposit?
3. What level of commitment is required?
Does the HSA provider lock you into an annual plan? What happens if you decide to terminate the plan early? At EasyHSA our contract enables you to meet CRA eligibility requirements without locking you in. You are always free to cancel your plan with us for whatever reason and without penalty.
4. What product(s) do they sell?
There is only one definition of a health spending account recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency.
This means that all Health Spending Accounts in Canada provide 100% coverage of CRA-approved medical expenses for covered employees and their eligible dependents (up to an employer-determined maximum benefit). Regardless of the particular HSA provider you choose to work with, employees have the flexibility to use their HSA to cover the full cost of a wide range of health services and supplies.
Some HSA providers offer different HSA product categories. These differences only reflect tiered pricing schemes, minimum benefit size requirements, or the bundling of HSAs with unrelated add-on products – the underlying HSA remains the same.
What about these ‘add-on’ products?
Some providers will offer third-party insurance products for an additional fee. Adding non-health related insurance products, such as non-medical components of travel insurance, could invalidate the HSA in the eyes of the CRA if that component of the total cost surpassed 10%. Since additional travel and health insurance is widely available elsewhere, the added cost of including this with your HSA plan should be considered separately.
‘Wellness Spending Accounts’ (WSA) or ‘Personal Spending Accounts’ may also be available depending on the HSA provider. These are add-on spending accounts that can be used for other types of services such as gym memberships. WSA amounts are a taxable benefit in the hands of the employee, meaning that they are treated the same as regular employee income. It is up to each employer to weigh the value of offering this benefit to their employees. Would your employees value having a WSA more than an equivalent salary increase or cash bonus? Keep in mind that the cost of offering an employee an equivalent salary increase or bonus is easier from a payroll administration perspective, and is less expensive.
5. Which types of employers are eligible to participate?
6. Do they help you satisfy CRA rules and regulations?
- Having you sign a CRA-friendly HSA provider contract.
- Informing and encouraging you to follow the strict rules regarding employee and owner eligibility.
- Informing and encouraging you to set up appropriate employee classes and benefit maximums.
- Informing and encouraging appropriate HSA usage by both employer and employee.
- Collecting and remitting applicable taxes. Each province has their own GST/HST rate, and RST and Premium tax must also be charged on health spending accounts in Ontario. If your HSA provider is not collecting and remitting these taxes, then you are required to do so.
How can EasyHSA afford to be so competitive?
That’s easy, we keep it simple. As long-time owners of small businesses, we designed EasyHSA from the ground up to be cost-effective, straight-forward, and trustworthy. Learn more
Thoughtful design and prudent management. Exactly what we ourselves would expect in an HSA benefits provider.