NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 23, 2006

Studies have shown that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have been slow to catch on with consumers.  A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only about 4 percent of covered workers are enrolled in such plans in 2006, a rate statistically no different from last year.  And while many experts see this model as the wave of the future for employee benefits, workers need to be better-educated about the plans, and the rules need some improvements.   

But the use of HSAs could rise with two recent announcements by Wal-Mart:

  • Starting in January, Wal-Mart's primary health insurance offering for new employees will be a high-deductible health plan with premiums as low as $11 per pay period in some areas.
  • After employees are enrolled in Wal-Mart's coverage for a year, they can pair the high-deductible plan with a health savings account, plus a contribution of up to $2,400 from Wal-Mart.

Because of Wal-Mart's size, its move is "very significant," says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy analysis (NCPA). 

What's more, Wal-Mart's recent announcement that it's expanding its offer of $4 prescriptions for some generic drugs to Texas will enable consumers to better use HSAs, said Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the NCPA.

"Wal-Mart gives price transparency," Herrick continued.  "You would immediately know what the price is.  With a drug plan, you have to call the drugstore, you have to ask them how much does this drug cost, and they would ask you who insures you."

Source: Pamela Yip, "Health savings accounts slow to catch on among insured," Dallas Morning News, October 23, 2006.


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