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Health Savings Accounts Expand Medical Coverage Options

Contributed by mm | December 24, 2004 10:48 PM PST

Health Savings Account, or HSA, is perhaps the most important news in 2004 that will, in the long run, change the way people think of medical insurance. Unfortunately, my employer does not offer HSA for 2005. Once it offers, I will probably be among the first ones to jump on the HSA bandwagon.

As a starter, check out Bankrate's summary. Some excerpts:

Eligibility: "If you are covered by your employer's health insurance, in most cases you won't be eligible for an HSA. And since HSA-qualified policies come with a higher deductible, if your family has frequent or ongoing medical expenses, this might not be the right health care option for you."

How It Works: "HSAs enable those with a qualified high-deductible health insurance policy to make pre-tax contributions into an IRA-like account to pay for health care costs. Most of the new health savings accounts allow you to spend your dollars on a wide variety of doctors from within a preferred provider organization.

"Unlike flexible spending accounts, unused balances in MSAs and HSAs roll year to year, accruing interest or investment earnings. Money in HSAs can be withdrawn tax- and penalty-free at any time to pay for medical, dental and vision care, although dental and vision payments will not count toward your deductible."

This Post Has Received 1 Comment. Share Your Opinions Too.


Andrew Yu Commented on December 25, 2004

From health economics prospective, HSAs appear to alleviate the ever-escalating health care problem. On the patient side, it creates more incentive to save than traditional insurance scheme with low deductible and low copayment. because the marginal out-of-pocket cost for seeking health care is about 1 minus tax rate, with a high deductible. On the provider side, it creates competition and encourage transparency in quality of care, because patients will have more to shop around for a more cost-effective solution for desired care. However, large enrollment of HSAs is desired in order to influence the cost containment of health delivery system.


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