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Medical/Dental Insurance
Consumer-Directed Health Plan with Health Savings Account

UW employees have access to a consumer-directed health care plan with a health savings account or so called "CDHP-HSA." Current medical providers—Uniform Medical, Group Health, and Kaiser Permanente—each offer this plan in addition to the traditional Classic and/or Value plan.

This page and the corresponding PEBB web page explain the CDHP-HSA plan. Navigate to Uniform Medical, Group Health, or Kaiser via the right side bar under "Medical Insurance Plans" to read a description of the plan choices sponsored by each provider.

Terms to Know

Before explaining the CDHP-HSA, it's important to understand that in addition to monthly premiums which are deducted from your pay, other costs should be considered when choosing a medical plan, such as:

Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP)

CDHP is a type of insurance plan where you take on most of the cost for claims until the higher deductible for the plan is met. It has lower premiums in exchange for significantly higher annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximums than typical health plans. The CDHP is automatically linked to a tax-exempt savings and spending account called a "health savings account" (HSA) that can be used to help pay for qualified medical expenses.

When you choose a CDHP-HSA, your monthly premiums (deducted from your paycheck) will be less, HOWEVER you take on a much higher deductible as you begin using health care services AND you assume the burden of ensuring your HSA contributions and withdrawals comply with IRS guidelines.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

When you elect a CDHP-HSA, the HSA portion is automatically established with HealthEquity, the qualified trustee. There is an employer contribution to this account, and you can also choose to contribute on a pre-tax basis into this account, either directly to Health Equity or through optional payroll deduction. You can use the money in your account to pay for eligible current or future health care expenses.

While the University allows payroll deductions for the convenience of its employees and transmits the funds to HealthEquity, all aspects of managing and maintaining the HSA remain the responsibility of the employee.

Key Features of the CDHP-HSA Plan

CDHP-HSA has a similar benefit plan structure to traditional plans, such as:

But, unlike traditional plans, there are other things to consider:

Member Costs for each CDHP Plan

Uniform Medical CDHP

Group Health CDHP
Kaiser CDHP
Annual Deductible
Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum


Annual Contribution Limits for HSAs

The maximum amount a taxpayer household can contribute to an HSA is determined by the IRS. HSA total combined contributions from all sources during a tax year (employee, employer, spouse and other contributors) may not exceed the limits shown in the table below:

HSA Contribution Limits
For 2015
For 2016
Additional catch-up contribution for those 55+

The same annual contribution limit applies regardless of who contributes. These contribution limits are set by law, and are updated each year to allow for inflation.

Remember to include the employer contribution when calculating your overall limit for the year. For individual subscribers, the state's monthly employer contribution to your HSA account will be $58.34 per month up to a maximum of $700.08 per year. For subscribers with one or more covered dependents, it will be $116.67 per month up to a maximum of $1,400.04 per year.

Also, remember to include the $125 SmartHealth Wellness incentive for any year in which you qualify.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, employees bear full responsibility for monitoring their own limits—the UW does not track limits. Contribution limits are subject to change by the IRS.

HSA- IRS Eligibility

HSA's are governed under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). To enroll you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

How an HSA Works

Your HSA is established for you at the same time that you elect the CDHP. Here's how it works:

Compare the Account Types

You may be asking yourself—what's the difference between an HSA and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)? This chart compares the two types of accounts..

  Health Savings Account (HSA) with CDHP Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) with Classic or Value Plan
Tax-advantaged (contributions reduce annual tax expenses) Yes Yes
Earns interest Yes No
Owned by account holder (you) Yes No
Owned by employer (State of WA) No Yes
Account holder can contribute Yes Yes
Employer can contribute Yes No
Others can contribute Yes No
Annual contribution limits

Individual: $3,350

2015 Family: $6,650
2016 Family: $6,750


Unused balances forfeited annually No Yes
Stays with account holder if you retire or change jobs Yes No*
Used for retirement income Yes, taxed as income. No
Required/Optional Required Optional

* Employees terminating mid-year can elect to continue their FSA through COBRA.

CDHP-HSA is generally best for people who:


Step 1: Decide on a Plan and Provider

Now that you are familiar with how the CDHP-HSA works from the preceding information, the next step is to decide which plan is right for you—Uniform Medical Plan, Group Health, or Kaiser Permanente CDHP. (Note: Kaiser is only available in certain areas.)

To choose the medical plan that's best for you and your family based on plan availability, costs, providers, and more—go to Choosing a Medical Plan where you will find a helpful comparison chart for this purpose.

Return to this page and Step 2, if you are ready to enroll in a CDHP-HSA.

Step 2: Enroll in a Consumer-Directed Health Plan

Complete the Medical and Dental Insurance Enrollment/Change Form listed on the medical/dental forms page. Be sure to include valid dependent verification documents if you are adding family members to your coverage and/or a Tax Status form if you are adding a qualified domestic partner to your coverage.

Once enrolled, you will receive an enrollment confirmation from your health care provider—Uniform, Group Health, or Kaiser Permanente. You will also receive a welcome notice from HealthEquity indicating that your Health Savings Account has been opened. At this point, you may begin optional payroll deductions as follows.

Step 3: Start or Change Payroll Deductions to Health Savings Account

Additional Notes:


Health Equity

Frequently Asked Questions about CDHP-HSA

Disclaimer: The information on this page does not substitute for official plan documents. If there is a conflict between the information on this site and an official plan document, the official plan document will govern. Refer to the Benefits Forms & Publications page.

Plan availability and eligibility may change depending on your employment status and/or actions of the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), the agency that purchases and coordinates health insurance benefits for public employees, including employees of the University of Washington, through the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) program.

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