When I wrote about declining enrollment for CHIP in Utah I did some research on the requirements for CHIP. I learned that even though I am fully employed – meaning I make a comfortable living – my kids would be eligible for CHIP if I did not have the option of insurance through my job. More interestingly I learned that there is another program, Utah’s Premium Partnership for Health Insurance (UPP), which my family would qualify for if I chose a traditional insurance plan. (Actually, my company just switched insurance and I could have enrolled in a traditional plan that would have allowed me to have my full premiums paid – partially by my company and the remainder by the state.) This program helps pay the costs of health insurance premiums for working families.
As I looked at the requirements for UPP it shows some interesting biases that are not good for our health care system. The one that makes the least sense is that they explicitly will not cover High Deductible (HD) plans that qualify for Health Savings Accounts. This essentially discourages people from using the best vehicle we currently have for becoming cost conscious and driving down the real costs of health care. If they wanted to encourage people to get the kind of insurance that is better for the whole system they would give the same amount of money – deposited directly into an HSA – for those who have an HD insurance plan as they give for comparable coverage under a traditional insurance policy. Of course the rules would be the same for qualifying plans whether they were HD or traditional.