What do health savings accounts mean for the emergency department?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The insurance market is evolving, with increased emphasis on plans with high deductibles and a large degree of coinsurance. This article serves as an introduction to the defining characteristics of consumer-driven health care plans and their associated health savings accounts. We discuss the most recent evidence on the adoption of these plans and their effects on use and reimbursement. Compared to many specialties, the emergency department (ED) may be insulated from extensive shopping and price negotiation, because visits to the ED are often for urgent and time-sensitive conditions. However, ED utilization patterns may change if cost-conscious health savings account holders forgo other necessary medical care, or if they seek out substitutes to the ED for less urgent problems. In the long run, the ED may feel the impact of changes that stem from 2 areas: the ability of health savings accounts to control the increase in health care costs, and the potential of health savings accounts to replace or undermine more comprehensive health insurance plans. We note areas that emergency physicians should monitor as health savings accounts become more prominent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-540
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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