Most Uninsured U.S. Residents Not Likely To Enroll in Health Savings Accounts, Study Finds
Most uninsured U.S. residents likely will not enroll in high-deductible health plans with tax-free health savings accounts, according to a new study sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, the Boston Herald reports. The study estimated that fewer than one million of the 45 million uninsured residents will enroll in such plans.
According to lead study author Sherry Glied, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, more than half of uninsured residents do not pay taxes because of their low incomes and would not benefit from HSAs. Glied added that HSAs would save middle-income uninsured residents no more than 3% to 6% on the $2,000 annual premium of most high-deductible health plans.
"There's no money here. You're giving people peanuts," she said (Strahinich, Boston Herald, 4/20). "Very few people will gain insurance coverage because of tax preferences" for HSAs, and "in fact some people may lose coverage," Glied said, adding, "Lower-wage workers in small firms are likely to be most at risk for dropping coverage if they are only offered a plan that provides little protection for out-of-pocket costs" (Commonwealth Fund release, 4/20).
Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said that individuals enrolled in high-deductible health plans with HSAs "would have bought this coverage no matter what the law did," adding, "They're not being induced to buy it by the tax incentives."
However, Larry Akey, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, said, "Our preliminary (survey) shows that roughly a third of the individuals who are buying this product were previously uninsured." Akey added that a second AHIP survey scheduled for release in May would indicate "continued growth in this market and continued appeal of these new products" (Boston Herald, 4/20).