HSA

Two posts in one day! What is the world coming to?

Anyway, apparently ideas purported to be “health care reform” are supposed to feature prominently in tomorrow’s State of the Union speech. The health savings account is going to be a cornerstone of what Bush wants to do to health care. Hopefully whatever it is he proposes gets shot down or forgotten about, given his track record on health care changes.

One thing I’ve never understood about HSAs is how they’re supposed to actually reduce the cost of health care. They don’t do anything to change the rate at which prices are going up, they just change who has to pay those prices, moving the cost from the insurance company to the individual while giving the individual a bit of a discount by letting them pay part of their deductible with pre-tax dollars. I suppose it could decrease spending a bit in the short run since if you’re a normal working person and don’t have those pre-tax dollars to save, then you won’t be getting any health care.

I was going to add another paragraph here that “Bush’s constituency isn’t normal working people, it’s rich people and this benefits them by…” but I can’t think how this benefits anybody. Studies have shown that most health-care spending is on people with chronic problems, and they’re not going to skip any treatment. As the Economist (a publication I don’t agree with often) puts it in Desperate Measures, The logic of consumer-driven health care assumes that unnecessary doctor visits and procedures lie at the heart of America’s health-care inflation. And it assumes that individual patients can become discerning consumers of health care. Both are questionable.

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