Health savings account and health reimbursement arrangement sales could boost preferred provider organization enrollment.

Researchers at the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations, Louisville, Ky., have published data supporting that conclusion in the AAPPO’s latest annual PPO market review.

Advocates of HSAs and HRAs once promised to free consumers from use of pre-negotiated provider networks.

But an outside consulting firm has found that about 97% of HSA programs and 96% of HRA programs give members access to PPO networks, the AAPPO researchers report.

In 2007, about 5% of all workers with employer-sponsored health coverage were enrolled in PPO-based health account plans, up from 1% in 2005, the researchers report.

Traditional PPOs covered 61% of all U.S. workers with employer-sponsored health coverage in 2007, up from 35% in 1997, according to the AAPPO researchers.