Enrollment in the new health savings account programs has doubled in the past 6 months.[@@]

The number of HSAs purchased has increased to 1.03 million, from 438,000 in September 2004, according to results of a survey sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington.

The number of insurers offering HSA-compatible high-deductible health insurance has increased to 99, and the number of carriers in the HSA market is about 3 times as great as it was 6 months ago, AHIP says.

“HSAs are steadily gaining momentum,” says AHIP President Karen Ignagni.

HSAs were created by Congress in late 2003 in a section of the Medicare drug bill.

Many of the new HSA holders are members of employer-sponsored HSA programs, AHIP says.

About 27% of the small-group HSA plans and 37% of the individual HSA plans were sold to customers who had no health coverage before they bought the HSA plans, AHIP says.

Originally, organizers of account-based health plans argued that the plans could free consumers to break out of traditional provider networks and negotiate their own discounts.

But insurers report that most HSA plans now on the market give patients access to conventional provider networks that offer professionally negotiated discounts, AHIP says.