Last week, the President unveiled his new budget proposals – including $12 billion per year in tax breaks to promote health savings accounts (HSAs) linked to high-deductible health plans – a fatally-flawed approach to health care coverage that will leave Americans out in the cold.
This week, noted Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber released an analysis that confirms the worst fears about HSAs. The key points:
1. The number of uninsured people would rise by 600,000 people. Because some employers will stop offering health coverage in response to these new subsidies, 8.9 million workers will lose their group health insurance and approximately 4.4 million of these individuals will lose health insurance altogether. Only 3.8 million previously uninsured people will obtain coverage as a result of the new program.
2. The vast majority of people who would benefit already have health insurance. Roughly 16.6 million people will benefit from the new tax breaks, but less than 23 percent will have been previously uninsured. The other 12.8 million will move from some other type of coverage – such as employer coverage, other individual coverage or Medicaid – to an HSA and a high-deductible plan purchased through the individual market.
The President’s proposals will do nothing beyond making our nation’s health insurance crisis even worse. With 45.8 million Americans lacking health insurance already, we can’t possibly fill this prescription.
– Karen Davenport