Friday, January 8, 2010

The Health Savings Account Gift from the Republicans to the Insurance Industry

The biggest gift to the insurance industry has been the selling of health savings accounts. Having had one myself, it just occurred to me why Republicans love them so much. What brought about my revelation was the following comment by the National Reviews Ramesh Ponnuru:
I also don't know whether a market with more use of HSAs would make for bigger insurance-industry profits. Isn't it possible that profit margins would be lower because insurance companies would be selling coverage of a smaller share of health expenses than they typically do today? And if recipients of Medicare vouchers were able to put their payments into HSAs rather than use them to buy insurance policies, they wouldn't be subsidizing those companies in any objectionable way, would they?
Wrong, on every count, all over the place. I should know, I had 8 years of HSAs coverage.

The tax supported general fund loses money when people deduct their HSAs contribution. In turn, the HSAs savings accounts pay out from $4,000 to $12,000 before insurance companies pay out penny one, meaning policies rake in huge amounts of money via premiums but pay out nothing.

Bottom line: The consumer ends up paying for almost everything, while losing valuable funding for public services, so insurance companies don't have to spend anything at all. Adding insult to injury, insurance companies raise premiums every year by $1,200 to $1,400 while asking you to lower the rate hike by increasing your already high deductible by thousands of dollars. Add that up over five or six years and try not to feel ripped off.

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