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Dec 5
Harris/WSJ Survey: Health Savings Accounts Are Still Unattractive To Most Americans

Proponents of consumer-driven healthcare have often touted Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as one means of driving down healthcare costs and making patients more responsible for paying medical expenses.  According to the Treasury Department, HSAs “enable [people] to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.”  In some plans, people are allowed to keep money they do not spend.  

According a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll, most Americans are comfortable with their current health insurance.  This is because the majority are confident that their healthcare needs will be met by their current plan.  

When asked whether they will enroll in a HSA, 79 percent say they have no plans to do so (see table below).  However, higher income respondents are more likely to say they will.

Clearly, many Americans are unconvinced that HSAs and other flexible spending accounts will meet their needs.  Are people reluctant to sign up for HSAs because of fear that they will be asked to spend more money for medical care?  HSAs must be bundled with high deductible health plans.  In these plans, patients are responsible for paying the first several thousand dollars of their medical care out of pocket.  

Given this, it is not surprising that higher income individuals are more attracted to HSAs.  They have the ability to pay for their care and are more willing to experiment with new forms of insurance.  If you have less money or are sicker, a high deductible plan is not a good option.  

Only time will tell if HSAs become more attractive.  Clearly, fans of these plans will have to alleviate fears that patients will be responsible for medical bills they are unable to pay.  

1 Comments/Trackbacks




we just launched a WebTV series that breaks down HSAs for employers and employees:

http://www.scribemedia.org/2006/12/14/the-abcs-of-health-savings-accounts/

there is still a lot of confusion about HSAs, even among brokers and agents who sell them.

i think employers can structure them in ways that don't make employees feel like the employer is just trying to shift the burdon of healthcare onto them.

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