Health savings accounts and high deductible plans maintain steady enrollment growth

Health savings accounts coupled with high deductible plans have seen a major enrollment boost in recent years, according to new data from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) .

The report comes amid support from conservatives that see HSAs and high deductible plans as a way to control healthcare costs in a time of spending inflation. 

The trade association reported that enrollment in such plans totaled 21.8 million in 2017, up from 20.2 million the year prior, according to the report (PDF). Popularity continues to grow with enrollment jumping by more than 400% since 2007. 

Additionally, AHIP said insurers have been offering additional tools to help members manage their health and finances, including cost and quality data and online access to account information. 

Contributions to health savings accounts are limited to $3,450 for an individual and $6,850 for a family, and the funds may only be used for certain medical expenses. Such accounts began under the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

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Health savings plans have been touted by many, particularly conservatives, as a to manage healthcare costs and are viewed as a good option for younger, healthier people, who have fewer health expenses.

Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced legislation in February to allow high deductible health plans paired with health savings accounts to cover chronic disease prevention and treatment on a predeductible basis.

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HHS Secretary Alex Azar has also praised the plans for promoting consumer awareness of the cost of care, signaling a potential push by the administration to incorporate HSAs and high deductible plans into future policy efforts. 

Additionally, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that high deductible plans and their out-of-pocket costs are often offset by lower premiums and employer contributions to health savings accounts.