Lawmakers talked Wednesday about capping deductibility of employer health insurance expenditures during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on health savings accounts.
Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., convened the hearing to assess the HSA program and talk about future program adjustments.
The topic of employer health premium deductibility came up after HSA supporters clashed with skeptics.
“HSAs are helping a substantial number of previously uninsured consumers purchase coverage, accumulate savings for their future medical needs, and access preventive care services,” said Karen Ignagni, president of the America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington. “HSAs also are enabling many small employers to offer health coverage to their employees for the first time.”
But Sara Collins, a health policy specialist at the Commonwealth Fund, New York, objected to efforts to fight health care cost inflation by increasing patients’ out-of-pocket costs.
Many backers of the HSA program say Americans spend too much on health care because they are protected from its real cost, but there is no evidence to back that claim, Collins said.
“Americans already pay far more out of pocket for their health care than citizens do in any other industrialized country,” Collins said.
“The major beneficiaries of the tax savings available through HSAs are likely to be healthier and more affluent taxpayers who already have health coverage–and can afford the financial risk posed by higher-deductible plans,” Collins said.