The Commonwealth Fund is publicizing a new analysis that predicts health savings accounts will make health insurance available to only about 1 million of the 45 million Americans who are uninsured.
The Commonwealth Fund, New York, is a health policy think tank that has backed earlier studies and analyses that have been critical of the HSA program.
The new analysis, developed by Sherry Gilead of Columbia University and Dahlia Remler of Baruch College, suggests that HSA tax incentives will have little effect on national uninsured rates, in part because about half of the uninsured owe no federal income taxes and in part because paying out-of-pocket expenses through an HSA program would cut taxes by less than $120 per year for most uninsured Americans who do pay income taxes.
If large numbers of employers who would be continuing to offer health benefits anyway shift to HSA programs, that could hurt low-income and moderate-income workers by increasing their out-of-pocket expenses without doing much to cut their taxes, the researchers predict.
But America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, has collected early survey data suggesting that early sales of HSA programs have been strong and that about 30% of the purchasers have been people who previously were uninsured, according to AHIP spokesman Larry Akey.
Although “the market is very young,” AHIP believes the early HSA survey results are very encouraging, Akey says.