AUSTIN – “State employees concerned about the cost and quality of their health care should tell their legislators to let them choose Health Savings Accounts,” according to Mary Katherine Stout, Vice President of Policy and Director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Stout made her comments following the House Insurance Committee’s approval yesterday afternoon of HB 1269 by Rep. Myra Crownover, which would add a high-deductible/HSA option to the coverages offered by the Employees Retirement System of Texas. A similar bill passed the House overwhelmingly last session.

“Individuals are capable of making informed choices about their health care,” Stout said. “State employees have no real competition or choice in their current health coverage. Our state employees deserve more than one choice for their health insurance plan and greater control over their health care dollars.”

Under the Health Savings Account (HSA) model, persons who choose a health insurance plan with a high deductible – at least $1,100 for individuals or $2,200 for families – may create an HSA that allows them to save before-tax dollars for their health expenses. Any HSA funds not used for health care expenses remain with the individual and can be invested in a variety of ways.

Stout testified when the bill was originally heard, and the Policy Brief she presented the committee is attached behind this release. In her testimony, she discussed the HSA option offered to state employees in 10 other states, noting that states like Indiana passed the state’s significant savings through to the employees that chose the HSA option.

“Legislators should not be scared by the rhetoric or disinformation that this represents a cut in employee benefits,” Stout said. “In fact, this is an enhancement to current benefits that could give state employees the opportunity to share in the savings of a lower cost health insurance plan, as well as to have greater flexibility in their health care choices.”

“State employee compensation increases every year, but the employees don’t see that because most of it goes to pay the cost of increasing health benefits,” Stout continued. “Texas will be in good company with the other states already offering an HSA option that have shown that a high-deductible/HSA option provides employees with excellent health coverage, more flexibility in health care choices, and most importantly, an option that better controls costs and allows them to share in significant savings.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.

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