Health savings accounts (HSAs) survived the health bill battle of 2010.
Republicans say HSAs are still in peril, but Dr. Stephen Neeleman, chief executive officer of HealthEquity Inc., a Draper, Utah, HSA administration firm, says he is comfortable with the changes made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
“There’s really nothing onerous in there for health savings accounts,” Neeleman says.
Earlier, when Democrats were backing a version of the health bill that could have eliminated HSAs “we had a lot of deer in the headlights when we were going to talk to employers,” Neeleman says. Now, he says, employers seem more decisive.
Todd Berkley, HSA business leader at Optum Health Financial Services, a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., that has $1 billion in 600,000 personal health accounts, says the business was growing rapidly.
“Last year,” he says, “there was a little more uncertainty.” Now, he says, he expects growth to accelerate.
Health savings account programs combine high-deductible health insurance coverage with personal health accounts. Either employers or employees can fund the accounts, and individuals can set up HSA programs on their own.
For 2010, the minimum deductible for an HSA-compatible plan is $1,200 for self-only coverage and $2,400 for family coverage. The maximum contribution is $3,050 for self-only coverage and $6,150 for a family.
HSA-compatible plans can offer no-deductible, “first dollar” coverage for preventive care, such as vaccinations and checkups, without violating the minimum deductible rules.
HSA holders own the assets in the accounts and can build up substantial sums over time.
Enrollment in HSA-compatible insurance plans has increased to 10 million earlier this year, from 1 million in March 2005, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington.
Financial institutions are providing 5.7 million HSA accounts, according to Roy Ramthun, president of HSA Consulting Services L.L.C., Washington.