California State Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian’s (R-Stockton) January 19 op-ed in Sacramento’s Capitol Weekly detailed the efforts to get health savings accounts (HSAs) approved in California. Assembly Bill 661 would conform California’s tax code to the federal provision allowing HSA deposits to be deducted from income.
“Any vehicle that encourages savings for health care is a step in the right direction,” said Aghazarian. He contrasted the HSA approach to a single-payer bill proposed by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and said, “Such a drastic transformation of one of California’s biggest economic forces would actually create a health care disaster.”
Source: “People Need Health Savings Accounts–Not Social Medicine,” http://www.capitolweekly.net/opinion/article.html?article_id=449
HSAs in New Jersey
The New Jersey legislature approved a bill in the final week of 2005 to enable HSAs in that state. The state was running out of time to conform its mandates to enable HSAs since the deadline to adopt legislation making health savings account contributions exempt from federal taxes was January 1 of this year. The bipartisan bill (S. 2435) “brings the state into compliance,” according to an article on RedOrbit.
At the same time, the legislature approved yet another mandate on health insurance policies–this one requiring insurers to cover birth control pills and other prescribed contraceptives. The cost to the state employee plan alone is estimated at $1.4 million per year, providing yet another reason for employers to opt for HSAs in New Jersey.
Source: “A Healthy Medical Insurance Plan for Business,” by Scott Goldstein, http://www.redorbit.com/modules/news/tools.php?tool=print&id=351332
HSAs in Kansas
In Kansas the “agribusiness giant” Cargill, Inc. is subsidizing HSAs for farming families. The firm has announced an arrangement with Wells Fargo Bank through which it will provide HSAs to such families with no administrative costs and will deposit funds into the HSA for families who sell to Cargill.
An article in the Wichita Eagle notes, “The contribution would be based on the number of bushels contracted, up to the full legal limit of the account.” Participants must secure their own high-deductible insurance plan.
Source: “Cargill offers health accounts to farmers,” by Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor, January 19, 2006, http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/business/industries/agriculture/13659524.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
Greg Scandlen ([email protected]) is president and CEO of Consumers for Health Care Choices, Hagerstown, Maryland.