In recent years, high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) — now common in both employer-sponsored and individual markets — have faced increasing scrutiny as evidence emerges that they may not actually cause people to be savvier health care consumers. Now, a new study adds another layer to the debate by finding that access to and uptake of health savings accounts (HSAs) is low among people enrolled in HDHPs. Experts have varied opinions on the study’s implications, but they agree that the findings underscore the need for better consumer education about the benefits of HSAs.
The study, published on July 17 by JAMA Network Open, details findings from a 2016 survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 who were enrolled in an HDHP for at least 12 months. Researchers reported that 32% of HDHP enrollees did not have an HSA, and 55% of HDHP enrollees who did have an HSA had not contributed any pretax funds to their account in the past 12 months.