When it comes to discussing health savings accounts (HSAs) with clients, most registered investment advisors would rather not, according to a survey by HealthSavings Administrators, a Richmond HSA provider.

Between April 12 and May 17, HealthSavings Administrators surveyed 239 advisors online. The majority (58 percent) said they do not offer HSAs to clients, nor do they discuss them with clients (26 percent).

Since HSA contributions are tax-deductible, they can reduce federal income taxes owed, the company noted. In addition, HSA account assets can grow tax-free at the federal level. And if used for qualified medical expenses, HSA funds can be withdrawn without being taxed.

One-third of respondents said they did not fully understand how an HSA works, and 40 percent said their clients did not either. Nearly half of respondents said that clients perceive HSAs only as spending accounts, even though HSAs can be invested, just like a 401(k) or an IRA.

Seventy percent said their clients did not know that HSAs could also be used to transfer wealth to family members, as long as that person has an HSA, too.

Craig Keohan, chief revenue officer at HealthSavings Administrators, said in a news release that the call for better HSA education among consumers, plan sponsors and advisors was nothing new.

“What is changing, however, is the 'why',” Keohan said. “With health-care costs continuing to rise, there has never been a more critical time for advisors and consumers alike to build their knowledge about HSAs and where they fit into the retirement planning mix.”