Balances are expanding in the health savings accounts (HSAs) provided for employees who participate in consumer-driven health plans, suggesting HSAs may be gaining traction as a way to save for health expenses in retirement. HSA balances are still small, though, and a far cry from what people will need in retirement.

J.P. Morgan Treasury Services reports that in 2011, the average balance of the 900,000 HSAs that it administers grew 4%, to $1,547, and at year-end, 36% of accounts had balances of more than $1,000.

Elena Szymanski, executive director of J.P. Morgan Treasury Services, notes that 74% of account holders contributed more to their account than they paid out last year. "That indicates a trend toward being able to save and use this as a savings vehicle," Szymanski says.

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