Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are Health Savings Accounts the answer?

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels brags in the Wall Street Journal about his state's health savings account program. I'm basically undecided on the issue, but given that there were almost zero criticisms of HSAs in the comments, I just had to be the voice of discontent.

My comment:

It seems to me that health savings accounts are just another way for healthier, wealthier, younger people to partly remove themselves from insurance pools, raising premiums for those who remain. Also, I'm completely unconvinced by Daniels' claim that HSA participants aren't generating their savings in part by going without important medical care.

For those of you claiming that Obama is only skeptical of HSAs because "he loves statism," please read a bit of how HSA opponents actually think. Also, congressional testimony of another skeptic.

Numerous studies indicate that, while consumers who bear a greater proportion of their medical costs use less health services, they are almost as likely to pass on medically necessary procedures as they are on wasteful ones. I'm sure a doctor or nurse would make an outstandingly savvy consumer of health services. The rest of us, not so much.

I do have to congratulate WSJ for having an unusually high-quality comments section. Yes, it's 95% free-marketeers, but they're articulate, and seem to be managing their ODS pretty well.

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