NU Online News Service, Feb. 17, 2004, 4:19 p.m. EST – Many insurers will start small when they enter the health savings account market.[@@]

Benefits experts at Eastbridge Consulting Group Inc., Avon, Conn., reach that conclusion in a new report on the infant HSA market.

President Bush brought HSAs to life Dec. 8, 2003, when he signed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

MPDIMA makes HSAs available to employers and individual taxpayers that buy high-deductible health coverage. Eligible taxpayers can deduct HSA contributions from taxable income and spend HSA cash on qualified expenses without paying income taxes on the distributions.

AAHP-HIAA, Washington, says at least 63 of its members are either developing HSA products or thinking about developing HSA products.

MPDIMA lets consumers use HSAs in conjunction with high-deductible plans that provide full, “first dollar” coverage for preventive services, such as immunizations and well-baby visits. MPDIMA also appears to let insurers and other financial services companies offer a wide range of investment options for HSA assets.

But many of the insurers that Eastbridge polled say they will release a bare-bones HSA product, then introduce more elaborate HSA products that offer customers more choices, Eastbridge says.

The Eastbridge report also covers topics such as HSA fees, HSA billing and HSA client statements.