NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

MSAs Would Benefit Those Seeking "Alternative" Health Care

February 27, 1996

About one-third of Americans seek some sort of alternative health care -- such as chiropractic or acupuncture -- each year. "The Access to Medical Treatment Act" has been proposed in the Senate to widen access to alternative care.

  • In 1990, consumers spent $13.7 billion on alternative treatments, $11.7 billion of it on alternative providers.
  • Employment in alternative care offices grew by 50 percent from 1987 to 1995 -- compared to a 20 percent increase in jobs in hospitals and physician offices.

Yet under programs such as Medicare there is no guarantee that the patient will be reimbursed. Most costs must be paid out-of-pocket.

  • In 1990, consumers paid $8.2 billion, nearly 70 percent of the total bill for alternative-care providers.
  • Yet insurers and the government picked up 83 percent of the bill for physician services.

The real problem, according to many health care policy critics, is that most people receive their health insurance from their employer or the government. Bureaucrats ultimately dictate health care decisions. Therefore, the easiest way to ensure that consumers are guaranteed a choice as to treatments would be to allow universal access to Medical Savings Accounts. More rules and regulations are not necessary, and MSAs are a preferable alternative, according to health care policy analysts.

MSAs are tax-deferred accounts set up for individuals to pay for routine medical care, encouraging consumers to become aware of how their health-care dollars are spent.

Source: Sue A. Blevins (Competitive Enterprise Institute), "Guaranteed Medical choice," Investor's Business Daily, February 27, 1996.


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