Health Savings Account enrollment grew 35% to 6.1 million between January 2007 and the present, according to a survey commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans.
At the same time, the chairmen of two House committees charged that the data from a Government Accountability Office study shows that HSAs are nothing more than tax shelters that benefit the wealthy.
The GAO report also noted that, despite their growth, HSAs only represented about 2% of individuals with private health coverage in 2006, the last year for which information was available.
Among tax filers between the ages of 19 and 64, the average adjusted gross income for filers reporting HSA activity was about $139,000 compared with about $57,000 for all other filers. Similar income differences existed across all age groups.
The GAO report said that the total value of all HSA contributions reported to IRS in 2005 was about twice that of withdrawals–$754 million compared with $366 million.
Among all filers reporting HSA activity in 2005, average contributions were about $2,100, compared to average withdrawals of about $1,000, the report said.
Despite the growth in HSA participation, nationally representative survey estimates from 2005, 2006 and 2007 found that more than 40% of HSA-eligible health plan enrollees did not open an HSA, the GAO report said.
Industry officials said they were quite satisfied with the report.
“Employers and individuals across the country and across the age spectrum are choosing HSA plans, which are now an important part of the portfolio of coverage options offered by health plans,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of AHIP.
Janet Trautwein, executive vice president and CEO of the National Association of the National Association of Health Underwriters, said the new enrollment and coverage statistics “illustrate that HSAs continue to be a dynamic, consumer-friendly and increasingly popular health insurance option.”
But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Cal., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Cal., chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, said the GAO report shows that “instead of being used by low and middle-income Americans most likely to be without health insurance, HSAs are increasingly a popular tax shelter option for wealthy taxpayers.”