While politicians and policy wonks are obsessed over the latest to-ing and fro-ing in Washington, in the real world Health Savings Accounts continue to grow as the future of health care financing. To wit –
Milford, Indiana switched to an HSA program for the town’s nine employees effective July 1. An article in the Mail-Journal reports, “The change will nullify a 12 percent increase in the town’s cost for the next fiscal year and improve preventative coverage. In fact, the town will see a four percent — or $6,000 — yearly decrease in premium rates under Medical Mutual of Ohio. Covered employees will see their deductible rise by $500, but their post-deductible, out-of-pocket expenses will be covered at 100 percent — an improvement over the current plan.” The town will also contribute $200 to the HSAs of single employees and $400 to families.
And the Caston school board in Fulton, Indiana, also switched to HSAs on July 1. The Pharos-Tribune reports that the plan will go from the current $200 deductible for individuals to $1,500, but that will be offset by a $1,500 one-time HSA contribution. The new plan will also save individuals $360/year in premiums and families $1,600. The change affects 35 to 40 classified employees and will also be available to teachers who decide to switch.
The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Board of Education expects to save $2 million over the next two years by installing an HSA program. The local paper reports, “Under the plan, teachers will pay a $1,250 deductible for individuals or $2,500 for family for services with in-network physicians. They will still have 100 percent of preventative care paid for, and can qualify for money back by participating in a health-risk assessment program. Frank Laurinec, the outgoing president of the BHEA, said the teachers overwhelmingly approved the proposal during a meeting on June 14 and encouraged board members to approve it.”
The Society for Human Resource Management’s annual survey indicates HSAs are growing across America. A press release from the organization says –
Use of HSAs Growing in Popularity Among Employers, SHRM Survey Finds.
July 9 (BNA - Health Care Policy Report) — The growing popularity of health savings accounts (HSAs) was reflected in the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual employee benefits survey as 43 percent of employers said they offered HSAs in 2012, up from 35 percent a year earlier and 29 percent in 2008.
An increasing number of employers also indicated that they made contributions to HSAs in 2012, according to SHRM’s 2012 Employee Benefits report, which was released June 25 at the organization’s 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta. A quarter of employers said they were making such contributions in 2012, up from 20 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2008.
And then there is the annual AHIP census of HSA plans, which finds qualified HSA insurance has grown 18 percent since a year ago, and now cover 13.5 million people, according to the Heartlander. PDF of the survey.
Yet, in spite of all this, HSAs may be on the ropes in Washington. Tom Purcell writes in the Tribune Review, “It figures. Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have been so successful at reducing the cost of health care, the ObamaCare people are out to get them.”
He talks about his own experience with an HSA, and how it prompted him to ask questions about the cost of the services he was getting. No one seemed to know and said they had never been asked before — “That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with our health insurance and health care systems: Consumers are completely divorced from costs. Massive inflation has been the result.”
But ObamaCare’s benefit requirements will not consider the HSA-funded part of his coverage as meeting the actuarial minimum. Only the insured portion of the coverage will count. He concludes, “Which is precisely what the ObamaCare folks want. Your ability to choose goes down, your costs go up — as happens every time government’s powers expand and individual freedoms are taken away.”