As healthcare costs continue to rise, health savings accounts (HSAs) have gained popular attention as a means to promote affordable and accessible healthcare. HSAs allow individuals to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified medical expenses, providing a tool for individuals to take greater control over their healthcare dollars. However, HSAs can also be a means to promote health equity.
A recent case study conducted by the Fairview Health Services in Minnesota illustrates how promoting health equity through HSAs can improve health outcomes for individuals and communities.
Fairview Health Services, a non-profit healthcare organization that provides care to patients in Minnesota, implemented a pilot program in 2017 that provided HSAs to low-income patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The program aimed to promote health equity by providing access to affordable healthcare for individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford it.
The program provided patients with a $50 monthly contribution to their HSA, along with free preventive care services, such as annual physical exams, mammography, and colonoscopies. Patients were also provided with a health coach to help manage their chronic conditions.
The pilot program was successful in promoting health equity. Patients who participated in the program reported improved health outcomes, including better blood sugar control and fewer hospital stays. The program also expanded access to healthcare for low-income patients, who were more likely to use preventive care services and to seek ongoing care for their chronic conditions.
The success of Fairview Health Services’ pilot program is not unique. Other studies have shown that HSAs can be an effective tool for promoting health equity. For example, a study conducted by the Brookings Institution found that HSAs can allow low-income individuals to access high-quality healthcare services, while also helping to reduce healthcare costs for individuals and insurers.
Promoting health equity through HSAs can also address health disparities that are often caused by social determinants of health. Access to affordable healthcare is often limited among low-income and minority populations, leading to poorer health outcomes. HSAs can help to bridge this gap, providing a tool for individuals to access the care they need to improve their health outcomes.
In conclusion, promoting health equity through HSAs can improve health outcomes for individuals and communities. While more research is needed on the long-term impacts of HSAs on health equity, the success of programs like Fairview Health Services’ pilot program shows promise in promoting access to affordable healthcare for all. By providing individuals with greater control over their healthcare dollars, HSAs can help to address health disparities and create a more equitable healthcare system.