CIP Headaches Begone!

Feb 13, 2024 | Posted by Elevate

How tech innovations eliminate one of HSA’s greatest pain points

Health savings account (HSA) advantages—including interest and investment earnings, employee ownership of funds, perpetual rollovers, and the glorious triple tax advantage (pre-tax contributions, tax-free investment growth, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses)—are embraced by benefit teams and employees alike. However, there’s still one industry-wide pain point: CIP.

What is CIP? The Customer Identification Program (CIP) is a federally mandated process to verify prospective accountholder identities as part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements under the USA PATRIOT Act.

CIP ensures that individuals are who they claim to be, which helps prevent fraud. While these requirements are important security safeguards, they can slow down or prevent employees from opening HSAs, delay their access to care and, consequently, cause hassles for benefits teams.

With traditional methods, after an employee selects an HSA through their employer’s benefit program, all company enrollees are processed through CIP and KYC in batches, and those files must wait until queued for processing. The employees who fail the regulatory review then receive a mailed letter with complex and burdensome resolution instructions. Add to this clunky process our all too familiar postal delays, and it all adds up to delayed account openings—often totaling weeks before accounts are opened, if ever.

What about the contributions for the employees who are going through the CIP review process? These funds are often held in limbo and must be manually returned to the employees who do not pass CIP, resulting in another clunky process for benefits teams and account administrators that involves spreadsheets and manual funds movements.

But...what if it was all easier?

Elevate’s modern system eliminates the antiquated timelines of the past by immediately processing enrollment and enabling applicants to clear regulatory hurdles right away. Employees who don’t pass the CIP review receive immediate notification and simplified instructions to quickly resolve their situation.

Even better—these employees can self-serve right away. Instead of waiting for a mailed letter with complex instructions, employees can sign into their accounts and complete the review process by either answering easy personal identity confirming questions (also known as out-of-wallet (OOW) questions, like selecting your correct college address from a list of options) or by uploading identification documents directly to Elevate’s secure portal.

With these technological improvements, the waiting time is eliminated. No more communication delays or lost letters. Employees can self-serve, and accounts are opened right away.

Once users correctly answer the identity confirming questions or submit additional documentation, they receive instant feedback and confirmation that their account is successfully opened. On the spot! 

Even if they failed to correctly answer questions or if additional documentation is needed, they receive onscreen prompts to resolve the issue.

If any contributions were being held in a pending status due to the CIP process, they are immediately released to the employee’s account. This process is a vast improvement, because it  eliminates the wait time associated with traditional processes and speeds account opening.

Results of Real-Time CIP

Employers using a modern, real-time CIP experience significantly higher enrollment success rates. At Elevate, 97% of members pass CIP and open accounts on the first attempt. The immediacy of the system creates a smooth and efficient enrollment process, which also increases and improves employee participation.

Flexible account funding

Another consideration impacting HSA opening is the account funding process. Because organizations have different requirements, Elevate has built in flexibility for handing contributions for employees going through CIP.

Our partners and their employer clients may choose to either pend (hold) contributions or deny contributions for those going through CIP. This gives our partners and their employer clients the choice to do what is best for them.

Let’s look closer at what we mean by pending funds. A pending status for HSA contributions allows contributions made to unopened accounts to be put into a suspended state until the employee completes the CIP process. Once CIP is cleared, contributions are automatically posted to employee accounts with no manual processes or intervention. Again, this happens immediately – no need to wait for batch processing or the next contribution run.

Some account administrators and benefit teams decide to block contributions for employees going through the CIP process. Those employees' contributions will simply not be accepted until they pass the CIP review. This is the familiar process for many organizations, and so once again, Elevate’s flexible structure allows the choice of how these funds are handled.

Additionally, Elevate’s on-demand reporting solutions always allow complete transparency and visibility into the account and funding statuses at any time, so benefit teams are always in the know.


As more employees engage in the benefits of HSAs, which helps them maximize their overall worker benefits, capitalize on tax advantages, and ensure funds are available for needed care, a simple and speedy account opening process becomes more important. Modern technology solutions streamline account opening and funding, enable maximum participation, and make enrollment simple. With these innovations, account administrators can improve their HSA opening process and create a win-win scenario for employer clients and employees alike.

Finally, CIP pain points are a thing of the past.

Let’s get started! Want to talk about how Elevate’s modern technology can drive change in the HSA industry? Schedule a demo.

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