Background Paper

The Fundamentals of Health Savings Accounts and High-Deductible Health Plans
April 23, 2007


Beth Fuchs, PhD & Lisa Potetz, Consultants


This background paper updates and expands on a previous NHPF document that looked at the fundamentals of health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), their intellectual and legislative origins, and the ways they work. In addition to updating information on the HDHP/HSA marketplace, this paper presents a description of how the HDHP combined with the HSA works for enrollees. Using a question and-answer format, it then addresses some of the more complicated details of these arrangements, looking first at the HDHPs and then the HSAs. This closer examination suggests some potential policy challenges for lawmakers, the focus of the paper’s final section.

Related Materials

See also "Health Care Price Transparency and Price Competition" (Background Paper, March 28, 2007).

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