Facing criticism over one of his proposed fixes to rising healthcare costs in this country, President Bush headed to Ohio which should prove to be a battleground later this year during midterm elections. He chose the Wendy’s hamburger chain headquarters to press back at doubts that broader use of health savings accounts (HSAs) won’t be of assistance to those faced with low-incomes or who are uninsured, the AP reports.
The selection of Wendy’s of course wasn’t random. The company began offering HSAs to employees last year.
"They help the uninsured," Bush said. "A lot of folks with incomes under $50,000 are buying these plans."
One of the main things that Bush is counting on in promoting the accounts is that those who use them will be more careful shoppers, essentially. This is because they are expected to contribute more of the initial costs of care.
HSAs are built to go along with high-deductible insurance plans which dictate that an individual fork over at the very least $1,050 ($2,100 for families) of their medical expenses before insurance would lend a hand.
The current law on the books only allows people with HSAs to use the money to pay deductibles, but Bush proposed in his State of the Union recently that the accounts be used to cover all insurance costs.
Many detractors, many obviously Democrats, have claimed that this type of plan only assists individuals who don’t actually need help. The working poor, they say, do not have the wherewithal to afford this type of thing.
"Try telling somebody who is underemployed, or working at Wendy's, that they should put money in a health savings account," said Brian Rothenberg, communications director for the Ohio Democratic Party, in response to Bush’s visit. "That's not a partisan issue. That's a practical issue. Sometimes I think the White House makes decisions in a bubble. Why he would come to a place that's bleeding jobs like Ohio and talk about health care is beyond me."
In support of its belief that HSAs are ideal for lower income people, the Bush Administration has pointed to recent data that shows that the 3 million people who have signed up for the accounts reflect previously uninsured (37 percent) and those that make less than $50,000 a year (40 percent).