HSA: Health Care Solution, Or Problem?

A police car with shot out windows is seen May 2, 2010 in Richmond, Va. after a shootout between an armed suspect and police that was caught on tape by CBS cameras. WTVR

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Bush is expected to promote what he'll call a "solution" for many of the roughly 46 million Americans who don't have health insurance: the Health Savings Account, or H.S.A.

People like 29-year-old Boston bartender Chris Raymond.

"If I were to get it thought the restaurant," he tells The Early Show Trish Regan, "it'd be about $300 a month. … It's just too, too expensive."

For about $100-150 a month, Chris could get a high-deductible HSA plan, which he calls "a lot more reasonable."

HSAs, explains Regan, are like 401(k)s for health care. They pair a savings account with a high-deductible insurance policy. You contribute your own pretax dollars to the health account. The money can be invested in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The account grows tax-free, but funds can only be taken out for health care costs. An HSA goes with you from job to job and, upon retirement, the funds are still yours.

Iowa self-employed software consultant David Andersen makes six-figures a year, and pays about $80 monthly for an HAS.

"It's a tremendous cost savings for me," Andersen says.

A traditional insurance plan would cost him nearly $400 dollars a month. Instead, he's funding an HSA.

"It's absolutely attractive," he continues. "It's money that I'm not spending on premiums that would just disappear that I can use for something else down the road."

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