U.S. House Panel to Study HSAs

May 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A U.S. House subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for next week on Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and the trend toward Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHP).

An announcement on the Web site for the Subcommittee on Health of the House Ways and Means Committee said the hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 14, in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. Chairman Pete Stark (D-California) said the panel would only hear testimony from invited witnesses but would accept written statements from the public to include in the hearing’s official record.

“HSAs and high deductible plans are a flawed policy approach to making health care more affordable,” Stark declared in the Web statement. “They make things worse, not better. Instead of using the tax code to encourage people to purchase coverage that may be woefully inadequate, we should focus on providing comprehensive health care coverage to those most in need in the most cost-efficient way possible.”

The Stark announcement concluded: “Simply stated, these policies are designed to help those who can afford to put money away to do so, but only serve to put health care further out of reach for those with high medical costs and/or modest incomes.”

The hearing comes in the wake of the release of a survey by trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans that found enrollment in HSA-linked plans jumped to 6.1 million as of January 1, 2008, a 35% increase from the same period a year ago (See HSAs Continue to Make Inroads ).

An Government Accountability Office study found that the average HSA enrollees had incomes nearly three times the average income of other tax filers and that HSA contributions were almost twice that of withdrawals (See Many HSA-Eligible but not Using Them ).

In a policy brief countering negative comments made by Democrats in response to the GAO findings on HSAs, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) concluded that conservatives will be pleased with many of the findings (See Committee Refutes Negative Response to GAO Study on HSAs ).