Tag Archives: health savings accounts

Another twist in the HSA debate – do they encourage more spending?

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: mgstanton via Flickr

For quite a few years, many conservatives have argued that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) should play a key role in market-oriented health reform. HSAs, the advocates say, enable people to have financial “skin in the game” and have the potential to encourage them to shop more smartly for health care services, bringing down spending. The counterargument is that they encouraged people to stint on health care, particularly preventive care. Continue reading

Study indicates better health savings account ‘literacy’ needed

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Source: 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. © Towers Watson 2014.

Source: 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. © Towers Watson 2014.

For the purpose of this blog post, let’s leave aside the decade-plus ideological fight about whether health savings accounts (HSAs) are a good or bad idea.

Let’s just look at what happens to people who have them, at least according to this recent article by Michael Fletcher, a national economics correspondent for The Washington Post. His argument is that people could save money on health care – if they knew how to use their HSAs. Continue reading

Report suggests applying value-based insurance design to high-deductible health plans

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image by Dan Simpson via flickr.

Image by Dan Simpson via flickr.

For years, health policy experts have asked whether high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) cause some patients to forego needed medical care. Rather than pay their high deductibles, these patients postpone visits to doctors or don’t get other necessary care, policy experts argue.

Now, researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID), Harvard University Medical School and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota suggest in a new report that the IRS should expand its definition of preventive services so that employers and health plans can structure incentives under HDHPs so that patients would not sacrifice necessary services. Changing the definition of preventive services would allow patients with chronic conditions to access more covered care, called secondary preventive services, just as insurers cover primary preventive-care services under the Affordable Care Act, meaning no charges, copayments or deductibles.

In a report released today, the researchers said millions of Americans in HSA-qualified HDHPs could benefit from expanded coverage of preventive services. The report was funded by the Gary and Mary West Policy Center. Among the researchers who prepared the report were A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., the director of the VBID center and professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan; Michael E. Chernew, Ph.D., Leonard D. Schaeffer professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School; and Stephen T. Parente, Ph.D., Minnesota insurance industry professor of health finance and insurance in the Department of Finance in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Continue reading