NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Deadline Approaching To Save MSAs

July 28, 2000

Medical Savings Accounts provide low-cost coverage to those unable to afford high health insurance premiums -- thus helping to reduce the pool of uninsured persons. But the program will expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends it.

  • The number of Americans who lack health insurance could rise from the current 44 million to 66 million by the end of the decade, analysts warn.
  • Of the nearly 100,000 Americans who have purchased an MSA policy since the program began in January 1997, more than one-third were previously uninsured.
  • One-third of MSA policies have been purchased by small businesses that couldn't otherwise have afforded expensive employer-sponsored plans.
  • Analysts say more uninsured Americans would have purchased MSA coverage if the program hadn't been temporary, the rules so confusing, and the plan's benefits so sparsely publicized.

Currently, MSAs are available only through a pilot program created by the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. One can only get an MSA if one works for a company with 50 or fewer employees.

MSA proponents say restrictions designed to hobble the program should be removed and Congress should promptly declare the plans permanent.

Source: Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), "MSAs Deserve a Healthy Boost," Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2000.


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