Letters to the editor
The Washington Post
“Unnecessary Measures” [editorial, Nov. 13] repeats the same tired, disproved line about medical savings accounts that The Post has been using since the idea was introduced in 1994: that they will be attractive only to “relatively wealthy and healthy people.”
Experience and logic show this is simply not the case. We have plenty of experience with MSAs and the newer “health reimbursement arrangements” (HRAs), and we know for a fact that people who choose MSAs and HRAs are no wealthier and no healthier than people who do not. They are, however, far more likely to be previously uninsured. The IRS says 73 percent of those who have set up an MSA had no coverage at all for the prior six months.
This should not be surprising. The money that goes into an MSA is money that is saved on insurance premiums by raising one’s deductible. The total out-of-pocket exposure is no higher with an MSA than it is with a preferred-provider organization, so people with a lot of medical expenses are not disadvantaged. And the opportunity to save money for future needs is far more attractive to a lower-income person than it is to a wealthy person.
At least The Post has finally acknowledged that “the principle behind the medical savings account is a good one.” That is progress. Now it needs to realize that the reality of the MSA is also a good one.
Center for Consumer Driven Health Care
The Galen Institute