WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- President Bush touted health savings accounts in a Connecticut speech Wednesday, to mixed reactions.
At a gathering of the Business Council of Fairfield County, Bush said the accounts offer an alternative to traditional insurance that would allow individuals greater control over their healthcare, and also give them an incentive to make healthy lifestyle choices.
HSAs allow individuals to save money tax-free that can be used to pay health expenses. The accounts are coupled with high-deductible catastrophic insurance that is used to pay large costs associated with serious illness or injury.
Some supporters said they were encouraged by Bush's efforts to inform consumers about HSAs, a cornerstone of his healthcare reform agenda.
But critics said Bush's efforts are inadequate.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a healthcare consumer advocacy group, said only the wealthy can afford to take advantage of HSAs, and they will not solve the problem of the uninsured.
More comprehensive reforms, like those recently passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, are needed, he said.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, D-N.Y., ranking minority member of the House Small Business Committee, said focusing on HSAs will not help small businesses with their mounting healthcare costs. Instead, she said, Bush should focus attention on legislation moving through the Senate that would enable small business to form insurance pools and purchase Association Health Plans.