New Congressional Testimony: Why HSAs Are Not the Answer

eAlert fb2f2557-05e7-42e9-9fb1-4aa5b5868522

<p>In <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=24448&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D405167%26%23doc405167">invited testimony</a> given today before the Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Health, Commonwealth Fund Assistant Vice President Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., explains why health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are not the answer to the problems facing the U.S. health care system, including growth in the already large number of uninsured Americans, rising health care costs and premiums, wide variation in quality and costs, and inefficiencies in care delivery and administration.<br><br>Advocates of HSAs and HDHPs reason that asking families to pay more out-of-pocket will create more prudent consumers of health care, driving down growth in costs and improving the quality of care as providers compete for patients. Collins testified that encouraging people to join the individual insurance market will further undermine health system performance.<br><br>"The claim that Americans spend too much on health care because they are protected from the real cost simply is not borne out by evidence," Collins said. "Americans already pay far more out-of-pocket for their health care than the citizens of other industrialized countries." Collins also pointed out that there is considerable evidence that high out-of-pocket costs lead patients to decide against getting the health care they need. The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey found that 44 percent of privately insured adults with deductibles over $1,000 avoided getting necessary health care or prescriptions because of the cost, compared to 25 percent of adults with deductibles under $500.<br><br>Collins said that policymakers should shift their focus to expanding group insurance coverage, developing pay-for-performance incentives to reward health care providers for high quality and high efficiency, and other promising strategies.</p>