Columnist Addresses Popularity of HSAs in California
Californians have "less incentive" to sign up for health savings accounts than residents in most other states because California workers' contributions do not reduce their taxable income on state returns, Orange County Register columnist Jan Norman writes in an opinion piece.
HSAs -- tax-free accounts that are paired with high-deductible health insurance policies -- "are emerging as an option for employers to save money while giving benefits and responsibilities to their workers," according to Norman.
Patricia Brown, vice president at SullivanCurtisMunroe, said, "HMOs are more affordable [in California] than in other parts of the country, so HSA pricing doesn't save that much yet. Eventually, we will have a more attractively priced (HSA) product here." She added that employers might continue to offer HMOs because of prescription drug coverage. "People are used to having a pharmacy card with a low copay," rather than paying for medications until they meet their deductible, she said.
Beta Benefits broker Lee Freeman, who educates employers and workers about HSAs, said, "I try to get employers to commit some of their (health insurance) money for HSAs. Once companies understand it, they usually encourage their employees to take it."
However, Ron Goldstein, president of Choice Administrators, said HSAs should be one of several options for employees because they "might not be the best choice for people with several children or medical problems" (Norman, Orange County Register, 2/28).