Focus Point - MSA Success Stories

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Great news! Medical savings accounts are finally flourishing!

In South Africa.

Medical Savings Accounts give patients direct ownership of and control over a portion of their health care dollars. But an American MSA pilot program congress created in 1996 has so many restrictions that their popularity and growth have been disappointing.

But in Nelson Mandela's South Africa, MSAs have captured more than half the South African market for private health insurance. Employer deposits to an MSA get the same tax treatment as employer payment of insurance premiums. Thus South Africa's MSA products compete on a level playing field with other forms of insurance, including HMOs.

How can Americans get access to the same kinds of MSA products routinely available in South Africa? Surprisingly, the answer may lie in Patients' Bill of Rights legislation now in conference committee on Capitol Hill. Under the legislation, MSAs would be made permanent and available to everyone. That's good news for all of us.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, saving Social Security.

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