GAO: HSAs are largely tax shelter for wealthy

While health savings accounts have been touted as a way for people of modest means to control their healthcare spending, they're largely being used as tax shelters for prosperous families, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO found that the average adjusted gross income for people with HSAs was $139,000. In 2005, total contributions to such accounts was twice that of withdrawals, or $754 million compared to $366 million. Participation in such plans has grown from 438,000 to 4.5 million between when they first became available in 2004 and 2007.

Meanwhile, the demand for health plans backed by HSAs continues to grow. Today more than 6.1 million Americans have HSA-eligible insurance plans (presumably with high deductibles), which amounts to a 35 percent increase over last year. However, several observers have suggested that the middle-class and low-income patients insured by such plans can't afford to fund their HSAs.

To learn more about the report:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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