This blog continues to chip away at some of the myths surrounding "consumer-driven health care." It seems appropriate to inject some other perspectives into the discussion, since the President has portrayed this approach of heath savings accounts as a health care reform solution.
Last week the Government Accountability Office reported that Federal Employees Health Benefits Program members enrolled in high-deductible health plans associated with health savings accounts on average are younger than those enrolled in traditional plans and more likely to have annual incomes of $75,000 or more. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said the report "verifies" that HSAs "are designed for healthy, wealthy people," adding, "Despite this reality, President Bush is pushing them on low-income workers -- not to provide them with better health insurance, but to meet his long-term goal of dismantling employer-provided health care."
Also last week, the Wall Street Journal examined how HSAs "are generating savings on payroll taxes for companies that adopt them, and they could hasten a shift of health care costs from companies to employees."
This week, some Knight Ridder newspapers ran an article headlined "Bush's HSA proposal hinges on dubious premise." The article states that "President Bush's proposed expansion of Health Savings Accounts depends on a premise that research shows is questionable: that Americans want more financial choices in their lives." It quotes a Columbia University behavioral economist: "It's the chicken-and-egg problem. On one hand they want more choice, but on the other they have problems choosing. With health care, the obvious issue is that unlike chocolates and jams, no matter what option you pick, it has serious consequences."