CINCINNATI, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's average family insurance policy is nearly $10,000 a year and represents 21% of the national median income. With health spending expected to rise well above inflation for years to come, it has left many corporations and employees struggling to get or stay covered. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19991117/FITBLOGO ) Fifth Third Bank is helping to give corporations another way to provide health care coverage for their valued employees through its offering of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs were created by a provision in the Medicare bill passed by Congress in January 2004. Similar to Flexible Spending Accounts, HSAs are tax- sheltered accounts used by individuals to pay for medical expenses. They are available to employees covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP), which carries a minimum deductible of $1,000 annually for individual coverage and $2,000 for family coverage but has significantly lower premiums than traditional insurance plans. "HSAs are likely to play a major role in how corporations and individuals manage the spiraling costs of healthcare in the near future," said James Dodd, Senior Vice President of Fifth Third's Institutional Client Group. "High deductible health plans have the potential to help corporations reduce their employee medical costs and enable them to continue to provide adequate health care for their workers." Mr. Dodd continues, "With these plans, employees gain more control over their medical costs by paying lower premiums and managing their payments via an HSA bank account where they can cover medical expenses tax-free with a check, ATM or debit card. In addition, HSAs earn interest and can help employees build long-term wealth on contributions that are not 'use it or lose it' like flexible spending accounts." Corporations, health insurance companies and third party administrators electing to offer employees a high deductible health plan in conjunction with an HSA can do so with Fifth Third through a company-sponsored custody account. Fifth Third will assist institutions with the necessary plan documents, including the Health Savings Account Disclosure Statement, Transfer/Rollover forms, and beneficiary forms. In addition, Fifth Third will provide plan participants, or employees, with an HSA and pay a market rate of return on deposit balances, offer limited check writing, access to the account via the Internet, account statements, tax reporting and brokerage investment options. Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Company has $98.3 billion in assets, operates 17 affiliates with 1,090 full-service Banking Centers, including 129 Bank Mart(R) locations open seven days a week inside select grocery stores and 1,979 Jeanie(R) ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The financial strength of Fifth Third's Ohio and Michigan banks continues to be recognized by rating agencies with deposit ratings of AA- and Aa1 from Standard & Poor's and Moody's, respectively. Additionally, Fifth Third Bancorp continues to maintain the highest short-term ratings available at A-1+ and Prime-1 and is recognized by Moody's with one of the highest senior debt ratings for any U.S. bank holding company of Aa2. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Retail, Commercial, Investment Advisors and Fifth Third Processing Solutions. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at http://www.53.com . Fifth Third's common stock is traded through the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol, "FITB."
SOURCE Fifth Third Bancorp