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Provisions of the House budget bill that will for the first time allow states to design their own Medicaid plans, including Medicaid HSAs, were approved by a House-Senate conference committee, and then okayed by the full House and sent to the Senate.  A big fight in the Senate is expected over non-health issues as well as Medicaid 'cuts,' but passage is likely and this could be as big an HSA program as the private sector.
One of the biggest problems facing smaller employers is encouraging employees to maintain their health management programs while either paying higher co-pays or adopting high-deductible healthcare programs such as HSAs.
Integrating a credit card with a high deductible insurance program is becoming almost an everyday occurrence as HSAs move towards the one million-unit mark before year-end.
With the end of 2006 fast approaching, many companies are thinking of switching their FSA plans to an HSA program.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. will start a bank to handle health savings accounts and other financial tools.  The Blue Healthcare Bank is expected to begin operating by summer, pending regulatory approval.  About 400,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield customers are enrolled in consumer-directed plans.  The Blue Healthcare Bank will offer debit cards that will allow consumers to pay healthcare expenses out of their accounts, and even credit lines if costs exceed their savings.  About 70 million members of Blue Cross Blue Shield nationwide could benefit from the bank, which will not be limited to customers with HSAs.



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