Monday, September 17, 2007

Stossel on Health Savings Accounts

John Stossel of ABC News has written an excellent article on Health Savings Accounts (HSA's), and the success story of Whole Foods company in adopting this as the basis of their health plan. Here's an excerpt:
"Health Savings Accounts: Putting Patients in Control"

Don't you hate that high deductible on your insurance policy? You have to pay thousands of dollars before insurance covers your care. That's terrible, some say, but is it really? A version of it may be the key to lowering costs and putting you in charge of your health care.

Five years ago, the grocery chain Whole Foods Market switched to a different kind of health insurance, a policy that puts patients more in control.

...Whole Foods has an insurance policy with a high deductible. That means an employee like Braden Weirs must pay about $1,000 before his insurance kicks in. If he gets cancer or heart disease, his insurance covers it.

But if he has a sore throat or a sprained ankle, he pays.

To help workers pay, Whole Foods puts money into an account for them. Weirs got $1,500 this year. If he doesn't spend it on medical care this year, he keeps it and the company adds more next year.

"And I have plenty of money left over," Weirs said. "So I can go get my new prescription glasses at the end of the year."
These plans encourage individual responsibility, save money, and yet still preserve high quality care. The whole thing is worth reading.