There’s a hot debate over the pros and cons of health savings accounts (HSAs). Like most other health policy issues these days, the debate is based more on differences in political and economic ideology than on facts. While on its face it may appear as a debate between Republicans and Democrats, in reality its a classic debate between Capitalists and Socialists, between believers in the power of markets and belivers in the power of government.

HSAs were made possible by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and build on the earlier concept of medical savings accounts. In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed several reforms to increase the availability of HSAs. While only three million Americans now have coverage through HSAs and the linked high-deductible health plans, many market watchers expect dramatic growth over the next couple years.

Here are some resources to understand health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans:

Fundamentals of Health Savings Accounts: Briefing paper from National Health Policy Forum (NHPF).

Primer on Health Savings Accounts for Consumers: Presentation by National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).

Health Savings Accounts as a Tool for Market Change: Issue brief from the HCFO program at AcademyHealth.

High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts – For Better or Worse? From By Dr. Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund.

Health Savings Accounts – Health Care Reform’s Best Kept Secret: By Robert F. Hamilton, MD, FACS

What High-Deductible Plans Look Like – Findings From A National Survey of Employers: Shows availability, enrollment, premiums, and cost sharing for high-deductible health plans offered with HSAs, from Kaiser Family Foundation and Center for Studying Health System Change.

Turning Medicaid Beneficiaries into Purchasers of Health Care: Critical success factors for using consumer-driven health plans in Medicaid, by Chuck Milligan, JD and colleagues.

HSA Information from U.S. Department of the Treasury: Includes directory of organizations, tax information, frequently asked questions, online resources, and glossary of terms.

Online Tools for Consumer-Directed Health Plans: The Kaiser Family Foundation hosted a demonstration of some online tools made available to enrollees in consumer-directed health plans.