Kaiser Health News Explains HSAs

In an article ostensibly designed to answer frequently asked consumer questions about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Kaiser Health News has this to say:

  • “HSAs can be confusing.”
  • “HSAs have two basic elements: A tax-preferred savings account…and a high deductible health insurance plan…any adult with a high-deductible health plan and no other form of health care coverage can establish one of these accounts.”

[Translation: you probably don’t want one of these.]

In the rest of the article HSAs/high-deductible health plans are described as a way for employers to control costs, as problematic for low-income individuals, as having a straitjacket design, as requiring consumers to pay the full-dollar amount of their medical expenses until they meet their deductible, and as discouraging certain types of medical care.

To make matters worse, the article notes that “the IRS determines what medical expenses qualify. Recently, the IRS dropped over-the-counter medications from its list.”

Buy an HSA and the IRS ruins your health care!

Last but not least, it turns out that the Rascally Republicans who promote HSAs as part of the solution to U.S. health care problems are really acting as publicity shills for the insurance industry. The Kaiser reporter found a consultant willing to be quoted as saying that “Every time a leading Republican refers to HSAs as an attractive means to buy health insurance, it’s as good for the product as buying an ad in the national media…”

Comments (6)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    Why don’t they describe HSAs as a way for consumers to control some of their own health care dollars?

    Why don’t they explain how HSAs can boost take-home pay by slowing the growth of insurance premiums?

    Why don’t they explain how HSAs can help individuals to save for post-retirement health care needs?

    The answer is probably that Kaiser does not really believe those statements or think any of they are good attributes. I beg to differ.

  2. Bruce says:

    No surprise here. It is Kaiser, afterall.

  3. Jacob Shmukler says:

    And I believe it wasn’t the IRS that “dropped over-the-counter medications from its list,” but ObamaCare. With this exact purpose in mind.

  4. Joe S. says:

    Kaiser to explain HSAs? What a joke.

  5. Sherry says:

    Wow what a spinster!

    While there are disadvantages of HSAs compared with “free, pretax money” (http://highdeductiblehealthplan.org/hsa_health_plan.html), the spin in the article is amazing:

    “HSAs can be confusing.” – yeah it is much simpler to just take your money from your paycheck without you knowing about it – SIMPLE

    “no other form of health care coverage” – again, why pay for healthcare with your own money. Give us a good sum every month, and let US decide what you need.

    “Rascally Republicans who promote HSAs” – it is not about the Republicans or Democrats, it is about you taking care of your own self!!!

    Voltaire said “Tend your own garden”

  6. Floccina says:

    problematic for low-income individuals

    Thus my idea:


    The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to the family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300. A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $55,300. Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs.