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Researching how people think about the future

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today.

HSA Coach User Research

The backstory

HSA Coach Founder, Aaron Benway, would joke that talking about retirement planning and healthcare doesn’t make anyone popular at parties. But the truth is, although it might not be fun, understanding these fields — at least at a basic level — is necessary.

Health care and insurance policies are getting more and more expensive and because of this, companies are opting to offer less expensive, high deductible plans for employees over traditional healthcare plans. The assumption was, based on prelimiary research, many people have issues understanding how to properly save both for retirement and healthcare. Healthcare costs can be particularly devastating and the inability to pay for healthcare bills is the number one reason given by those filing for bankruptcy.

Luckily there is something that can help offset future healthcare costs. Those enrolled in high deducible healthcare plans (HDHP) have the option to contribute to a pre-tax health savings account (HSA). The funds in this account are not taxed going in, and not taxed coming out when paying for medical expenses. The savvy user can invest the funds in an HSA into mutual funds and hopefully grow their money well into retirement.

HSA Coach is a mobile software application designed to inform, educate and automate many of the requirements and advantages associated with health savings accounts (HSAs).

The biggest question: How can HSA Coach get more people to understand these benefits?

Because this is a complex problem with no clear answer, Aaron Benway, the founder of HSA Coach, asked me to conduct user research to hopefully give insight into how to solve this problem by listening to the needs of actual people.

Because of the broasd scope, large number of open-ended, general questions around how people think about retirement and healthcare, we chose to conduct discovery research using user interviews, versus usability testing for the current applications.

Drew's Role

  • UX Research
  • Conducting the Research

    The research process started with a meeting involving all team members, advisors and other stakeholders to determine what questions were most important to answer.

    Because of the large number of open-ended, general questions around how people thing about retirement and healthcare, we chose to conduct discovery research using user interviews, versus usability testing for the current applications.

    Then, we decided on a strategy for identifying the best people to speak to get the highest quality answers that would best inform future product design decisions. There was some debate on whether we should talk to people with some knowledge of HSAs or those who knew a lot of HSAs, people we deemed “HSA Gurus”.

    Together, we came up with a list of questions to help screen the right people and placed a recruiting screener on an HSA site using a tool called ethn.io. Maybe it was the promise of an Amazon.com gift card or maybe it was the ability to help in an area important to them that needed improvement, but we had almost 650 respondents to our recruiting screener in a few weeks.

    From those 650 people, we narrowed in on a small group of users that we predicted would give us the best insights.

    The results

    Suprisingly, almost all of the people I spoke to were very informed not only about retirement saving and spending, but also about HSAs, almost to the point of considering saving and planning for the future a hobby.

    We found research subjects fell into a very specific personality traits such as being super organized, motivated, and self-educated.

    High Level Findings

    • Small but knowledgeable. “HSA Gurus” were a small percentage of people with HSA accounts
    • Save now, play later. Participants were very organized, cost-conscious, practical, patient, and enjoyed saving and building wealth.
    • Where there’s a will, there’s a way. While there is a need to keep medical expenses organized, where there is a will, there is a way. All participants had a current system in place to track HSA expenses. Some relied on cloud technology, some on paper files, and some a combination of both.
    • Motivated and educated. Many had ways to find to become educated about HSAs, either by researching online or by talking to trusted individuals.

    What users wanted:

    • Automation

      And they will tell you that for the past 90 days, you've spent $1,300. So I know that I have $1,300 that I can take out of my HSA if I wanted to. But it would be nice not to have to collect all the paper.”

    • Easy-to-use/Understand

      “So the problem is you save up all your receipts and all your expenses, and then in the future, you reimburse yourself money that’s grown. That’s kind of a pain in the butt.”

    • Information/More Transparency

      • What HSA custodians have the lowest fees?
      • What HSA custodians have best brokerage options?
      • How much do services cost when I pay out of pocket?
      • Do I really need to collect receipts?
    • Trustworthy Applications

    • On a financial tool: “I don’t think it was really error-proof, not error-proof, but it stopped working easily and so then I stopped using it”

    hdhp user research
    hdhp user research
    hdhp user research
    hdhp user research
    hdhp user research

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