HSAs: Putting Patients In Charge of the Rationing
Investor's Business Daily -- Health savings accounts (HSAs) are still alive and growing. Not only that, they seem to be working as planned.
From 2007 to 2008, the total cost of premiums and employer cash contributions to HSAs rose by 2.3% for family coverage, less than half the 4.7% rise in premiums for family coverage overall. HSA-linked coverage is also much cheaper than conventional plans. Its average annual total costs to employers and employees, according to Kaiser, were $10,623 for a family plan in 2008 vs. $12,680 for all family plans. This alone means HSAs would help hold overall premium costs down if they continue to get a larger market share.
HSAs reward consumers for price-conscious decisions by giving them a tax-sheltered account to salt away the money they save. Patients get a little richer by choosing generics over brand-name drugs and staying alert to overbilling. Where there's rationing — in the sense of deciding whether this procedure or that drug is worth the cost — it's the patients themselves who make that call.
This is true reform because it fundamentally changes the way people pay for health care. The role of the third-party payer shrinks, and medicine starts returning to what it once was: a two-way relationship between patients and providers.