SOURCE: Fremont Bank

December 04, 2006 13:00 ET

Fremont Bank Teams With Sterling HSA™ to Offer New Health Savings Account

Product Includes Special Features for Savers to Assure Medical Discounts and IRS Compliance; HSAs Reduce Benefits Costs and Taxes for Business Owners and Provide Financial Incentive for Employees to Practice Healthy Lifestyles

FREMONT, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 4, 2006 -- Fremont Bank (, the Bay Area's most progressive full service community bank, today announced it has teamed with Sterling HSA™ (, an Oakland-based administrator of Health Savings Accounts and a leader in the new category of tax-advantaged health care benefits, to offer business owners and individuals a Health Savings Account (HSA) product.

HSAs are tax-advantaged, portable savings accounts which are offered in conjunction with qualified high-deductible health plans and deliver tax relief for both employers and workers. For businesses, HSAs can dramatically reduce the costs of providing medical coverage and workers' compensation to employees.

"We are proud to partner with Sterling HSA as the administrator for this important new product," says Ann Kolsch, vice president of Operations for Fremont Bank. "Sterling is quickly building a reputation as a leader in this emerging category of healthcare benefits and we are excited about the value this partnership will provide, particularly for our small business and professional services clients."

The business philosophies of the two partners are similar. "Sterling HSA and Fremont Bank are very consumer centric organizations. Our common goal in this partnership is to provide a personal, reliable and satisfying customer experience to our clients," said Cora M. Tellez, CEO and founder of Sterling HSA. "We're delighted to be able to administer this product for business clients and individual customers of Fremont Bank."

Employee contributions to HSAs are tax deferred in the same way as an Individual Retirement Account and help employees reduce their tax bills while providing resources for medical expenses. Unlike an IRA, HSA savings are not taxable upon withdrawal if spent on qualified medical expenses.

The Fremont Bank HSA, available now, offers additional benefits through Sterling HSA, including review of medical bills. This ensures employees are getting the best price possible on healthcare services they are paying for with HSA account funds.

In addition to medical bill review and payment services, Sterling HSA also provides account holders with quarterly statements and accurate record keeping for IRS audit purposes, as well as verification that medical expenses are HSA qualified to reduce the risk of an IRS violation.

Fremont Bank's decision to partner with Sterling HSA to offer Health Savings Accounts came from customer feedback, according to Kolsch. "We had many CPAs, financial advisors and business owners asking if we offered an HSA so we responded quickly in order to help them take advantage of the year-end rush and subsequent tax season to find tax savings for their clients," she says.

Fremont Bank holds HSA customer contributions in interest bearing accounts and also collects employer contributions -- an additional benefit option available to each employer offering HSAs. Employees get a debit card from Fremont Bank for HSAs and can use it in the same way they use a standard checking account to buy qualified prescription drugs, and to make co-payments and pay deductibles. Account holders can also collect receipts and submit them for reimbursement.

The timing is right to begin to offer HSAs, adds Kolsch. "Healthcare providers across the nation are planning to roll out high-deductible plans for employers during the current open enrollment season," she notes. "With tax season also in full-swing, employers who deploy HSA and high-deductible plans for their employees right away can get in on the ground floor of a movement that will produce tremendous savings for 2006, 2007 and beyond for both businesses and employees."

She adds that in conjunction with high-deductible health plans, which are less expensive than traditional health plans, HSAs now lower the entry barrier for small businesses that have never offered a healthcare benefit to employees to begin doing so.

Fremont Bank's HSA product is available at any of the bank's 24 Bay Area branch locations. Businesses and individuals interested in opening a Fremont Bank HSA can also contact a sales representative by phone at 800-291-7802. In the next month, business and individual customers will also be able to sign up online at

About Fremont Bank

Fremont Bank ( is the leading full-service community bank in Northern California. Founded in 1964, Fremont Bank is one of the oldest independent family owned and managed banks in the region and focuses on personalized service for individuals and businesses. It serves communities through 24 branches and 4 ATMs throughout the Greater Bay Area. Exceptional client service is the cornerstone of Fremont Bank's business. Accommodation of customer needs in a friendly, personal atmosphere characterize the bank's culture.

About Sterling HSA

Sterling HSA (, an independent, privately held company, specializes in administering HSAs, or health savings accounts. It is led by a team of experienced healthcare executives and advised by a board of distinguished professionals with expertise in healthcare, banking and the law. In conjunction with eligible insurance plans, HSAs provided by Sterling enable employers to control rising health care costs, subscribers to get the services they need and save money, and insurance professionals to enhance the range of services they can offer to their clients.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Curt Olsen
    CFO Communications
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