HSAs pave way for first-dollar preventive care coverage

Most health savings account plans cover recommended preventive benefits on a first-dollar basis, according to a new survey released this week by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

"HSA plans have been a valuable new coverage option - especially for those who had been uninsured previously - and are providing consumers with access to important preventive health care services," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP.

AHIP surveyed its members to examine the preventive benefits provided by high-deductible health plan (HDHP) policies that are compatible with a health savings account (HSA). The survey found that most HSA/HDHP policies cover recommended preventive benefits on a "first dollar" basis - that is, without regard to whether the deductible is met.

Among HSA/HDHP policies offering first-dollar coverage for preventive care, 100 percent cover adult and child immunizations, well-baby and well-child care, mammography, Pap tests, and annual physical exams and screenings. Nearly 90 percent provide first-dollar coverage for prostate cancer screenings and 83 percent offer this coverage for colonoscopies.

Virtually all HSA/HDHP policies purchased in the large-group market (99 percent) and small-group market (96 percent) provide first-dollar coverage for preventive care.

Additionally, 59 percent of policies purchased in the individual market cover preventive care on a first-dollar basis. First-dollar coverage for preventive benefits is less frequent in the individual market because premiums for individual coverage are not tax deductible, as they are with employment-based coverage. This gives consumers an incentive to purchase preventive benefits through a tax-free HSA rather than through higher premiums. AHIP supports full tax deductibility for all health insurance premiums to create a level playing field for consumers purchasing health care coverage on their own without an employer sponsor.

You can view the entire survey.

AHIP is the national trade association representing nearly 1,300 member companies that provide health insurance coverage.

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