With President Bush apparently planning to push for the expansion of health savings accounts in 2006, providers of the plans say enrollment has tripled over the past 10 months.
The health insurance industry said that enrollment in high-deductible insurance plans that qualify for contributions to tax-sheltered health savings accounts tripled to 3 million people. The 3 million enrollees still represent a small percentage of the 198 million Americans who were covered by private insurance as of 2004.
HSAs were introduced in 2003, a measure aimed at shifting responsibility for buying health insurance from employers to individuals. Detractors have said that the accounts work only for the healthy and put at risk the health and resources of the poor.
Contributions into HSAs are tax-deductible, and withdrawals used for medical expenses are tax-free. Balances at year's end can be rolled over into the next year.
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