HSAs Could Pose Challenges for Some Consumers
The New York Times on Saturday examined how U.S. consumers might "be pushed to take more control of ... their health care spending" through the expansion of health savings accounts and consumer-driven health care and how they might face problems because "managing money yourself isn't easy."
According to the Times, the "idea of a consumer-driven health plan is daunting because most Americans have found it so difficult to navigate the present system." In addition, the "basic problem" with consumer-driven health care is a "lack of consumer information," as consumers currently only have access to health care price information provided by their health insurers and physicians, the Times reports.
Several health insurers, such as Aetna, have launched Web sites to explain some health care costs to consumers, but those sites exclude some necessary information on prescription drug prices. In addition, although Web sites such as WebMD.com and USNews.com provide health care advice, "consumers will need ... more sophisticated financial tools" to manage HSAs (Darlin, New York Times, 2/18).
Two newspapers on Tuesday published an editorial and two opinion pieces that address HSAs. Summaries appear below.
Wall Street Journal: "Washington denizens who say the Bush administration is out of domestic ideas haven't been paying attention" because a proposal by President Bush that would expand HSAs and consumer-driven health care has "the potential for the most sweeping and beneficial changes in half a century," a Journal editorial states. According to the editorial, the economic benefits of the proposal "could be profound," and "Americans would also become wiser consumers of health care services" (Wall Street Journal, 2/21).
- Michael Barone, Washington Times: The Bush proposal to expand HSAs "is an attempt to change things not by government mandate but by opening the way for private actors ... to make decisions that will increase the power of market forces," syndicated columnist Barone writes in a Times opinion piece. In addition, the proposal could "give individuals more control and society greater flexibility" in health care, according to Barone (Barone, Washington Times, 2/21).
- Robert Goldberg, Washington Times: "Conservatives are doomed to lose the HSA debate because they regard them largely as cost-cutting tools," and "medical progress, not administrative machinations, will reduce the cost of disease," Goldberg, vice president for strategic initiatives for the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, writes in a Times opinion piece. According to Goldberg, "Republicans must commit to expanding and protecting medical insurance for all Americans," and "HSAs should be hailed as one way for achieving that goal" because they "are not for everybody or a panacea" (Goldberg, Washington Times, 2/21).