Advocates of medical savings accounts used a study published last week to increase the pressure to keep a provision for such accounts in compromise health insurance reform legislation.
The analysis by Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif., research organization, concluded that medical savings accounts, or MSAs, would be attractive to both sick and healthy people because sick people could reduce their out-of-pocket expenses. That conclusion disputes criticisms that MSAs would attract only the healthiest people, leaving the sick in the insurance risk pool and driving up insurance premiums for those who retain traditional insurance.
But at the same time, the Rand study, published in the June 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that the MSA language passed as part of House insurance reform legislation would reduce national healthcare spending by a maximum of 2%. Advocates argue that MSAs will have a greater impact on healthcare spending growth.
"I think the MSAs aren't going to make much difference, good or bad," said Emmett Keeler, a senior mathematician at Rand who worked on the study.
The House-passed version of health insurance reform legislation included a provision that would allow employers or individuals to make tax-deductible contributions to MSAs, from which money could be drawn to pay for day-to-day medical expenses up to the deductible of a catastrophic health plan.