In an attempt to manage the ever-increasing health care cost and increase the availability of medical insurance, the U.S. President, George W. Bush has urged the citizens to invest in health saving accounts or HSAs that comprises of pretax dollars. At the time of need, the funds can be mobilized to pay for the medical expense.
High deductible health insurance policies and lowest annual premium rates are coupled with the HSAs. In order to make it look more attractive, several measures have been planned that would be implemented in this year's agenda. The deductible amount would be raised further to match the out-of pocket spending.
The HSAs created in 2003, can be availed by either self or through employers. It has more than 3 million participants to its credit. The main advantage of the HSAs over other plans is that balance funds can be carried over to the next year.
If people were encouraged to spend on their own, it is hoped that they would resort to cost effective treatments and would reconsider about consulting with a physician for a minor ailment. Patients have been warned about taking decisions on their own. It is felt that the health care decision should be an informed one, based on patient-physician collaboration.
A study conducted by a management agency is indeed in support of the proposed low premium, highly deductible HRA plan that revealed that consumers were likely to refrain from seeking medical treatment for less serious conditions and are more likely to enquire about cheap medicines or pocket friendly treatments when they had taken up consumer-directed policies.
The issue also raises serious concerns about the effective delivery of health care services. It is further stated that this move can also aggravate a clinical condition, necessitating spending of a much larger amount at a later stage, if ignored initially. Most people don't even have enough time or skills to analyze the cost, risk and benefit involved in health care and take appropriate decisions.
In line with the above arguments, whether or not the President would succeed in the implementation of the proposed plan is a question that needs to be addressed by the public and time, of course.