In the House Ways and Means Committee, legislators met yesterday to discuss the merits of health savings accounts (HSAs) as a tool to expand consumer access to quality health care. Now, today at 3:00 p.m., the Joint Economic Committee will also hold a hearing to further investigate the role HSAs can play in bending the cost curve.
HSAs are tax-exempt savings accounts individuals can use to pay for eligible health care expenses. Frequently, employers will match or make contributions into the HSA for their employee. Maybe you have one. If you do, you already know that they are an important tool to manage your personal health care costs. Not only do HSAs deliver savings, but HSAs produce a more informed health care consumer who is empowered and incentivized to ask questions about a plan’s coverage, to check prices, to use online tracking tools and to talk to his or her doctor about treatment options and costs.
Similarly, HSAs are a viable tool for employers to use to address increased premium costs overall. Manufacturers continue to invest in their people by offering quality health insurance programs to attract and maintain a healthy workforce. But, as you know, together, employees and employers are spending more on higher health insurance premiums. In 2018, plan premiums are projected to increase by 4.5 percent according to the Milliman Medical Index.
As yesterday’s hearing revealed, employees save an average of $1,850 on premiums for family coverage while employers save approximately $2,400 and are re-investing approximately $1,100 in HSAs. That underlines the importance of HSAs moving forward as one of the best options available to deliver better health care outcomes while managing costs.
Manufacturers continue to rely on HSAs in employee benefit programs, and we are glad to see Congress engaged on this important issue. We also support legislative proposals to modernize the two-decades-old law overseeing HSAs, such as expanding eligibilities and increasing contributions. We at the NAM participated in the release of a statement in advance of the hearing, which you can review here, in our capacity as a steering committee member of the National Coalition on Benefits. Moving forward, we will continue to advocate market-based and consumer-driven solutions to rising health care costs that protect quality benefits for employees and increase manufacturing competitiveness.