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Health-care Savings Accounts Seem Popular

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NEW YORK, Apr 26, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A New York consultancy has found that nearly three-quarters of U.S. employers surveyed plan to offer tax-free health savings accounts by 2006.

Mercer Human Resource Consulting reported Monday that 73 percent of employers polled said they were likely to offer the new accounts to their workers by 2006, according to a survey to be released this week.

"We're looking at a major market change," says Linda Havlin, Mercer's Midwest health care practice leader, noting that a 73 percent interest in adopting a new program within two years "is unprecedented."

The interest reflects employers' frustration with double-digit increases in health care costs and a dearth of new ideas for dealing with those costs, Havlin said.

These accounts, approved by Congress last year as part of the Medicare reform legislation, let policyholders set aside money tax free to cover health care costs.

Unspent money earns interest and can be rolled over, but the accounts must be coupled with insurance policies with annual deductibles of at least $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for families.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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