NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

HEALTH INSURANCE'S NEW WAVE

December 28, 2006

For more than a dozen years, National Center for Policy Analysis president John Goodman has been touting tax favored health savings accounts, achieving only modest success before the Bush administration embraced the concept and the GOP-controlled Congress in 2003 paved the way for insurers to offer such plans, says Christopher Lee in the Washington Post.

Now the dividends are beginning to pay off:

  • About 3 million people are already enrolled in the new plans.
  • Another 3 million are in similar plans in which employers contribute to tax-favored medical spending accounts for their workers.
  • A recent RAND Corp. survey found that employers reported saving at least 10 percent on health costs, and plan participants appeared to trim health spending between 2 and 15 percent.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, supported the 2003 legislation that cleared a legal path for the new plans, said that he was a convert to the idea years before, in part because of Goodman's tireless advocacy campaign.

"It was a long slog, but he made it and it paid off," Grassley said. "I think it's going to be one of the big directions that health care is going to move in."

And that change in direction couldn't come at a better time, says Goodman.  "We are on a health-care spending path that's unsustainable," he said. "Someone is going to have to choose between health care and other uses of money. If you want someone else to make those choices for you, you can join an HMO. But if you want to make those choices yourself, these accounts give you the financial ability to make them."

Source: Christopher Lee, "Health Insurance's New Wave And the Man Behind the Plans," Washington Post, December 28, 2006.

For text:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/27/AR2006122701421.html

 

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