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Health Savings Account Enrollment Surges 25 Percent, Study Finds

May 19, 2010
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Enrollment in health savings accounts linked to high-deductible health insurance plans surged to 10 million people as of January 1, a 25 percent increase in a year, according to an annual census released Wednesday, May 19.

HSA enrollment rose in all markets, according to the Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The large-employer market registered the largest percentage gain. Employers with at least 51 employees had 5 million people in HSAs as of January 1, an increase of about a 33 percent in the past year.

In the small-employer market—employers with up to 50 employees—HSA enrollment increased to about 3 million people, up about 22 percent. Meanwhile, the individual market climbed to just more than 2 million people, a 12 percent rise.

HSAs, authorized under a 2003 law that added a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program, became available on January 1, 2004, and enrollment has risen steadily since then. AHIP said 1 million people were enrolled in HSAs in March 2005, 3.2 million as of January 1, 2006, 4.5 million in 2007, 6.1 million in 2008 and 8 million in 2009.

The key factor driving HSA growth is that premiums for high-deductible health insurance plans, to which HSAs must be linked by law, tend to be lower than more traditional health plans.

This year, the minimum deductible for single coverage through an HSA-linked health plan is $1,200. The minimum deductible for family coverage is $2,400.

The AHIP census is based on 93 insurers and their subsidiaries offering HSA-linked health insurance plans. AHIP said it believes its census covers virtually all people enrolled in plans linked to HSAs.

Copies of the census are available at www.ahipresearch.org.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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