Uninsured immigrants; HSAs in retirement

The August 2008 EBRI Notes (pdf, 16pp) from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) covers two topics:

(1) The Impact of Immigration on Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 1994–2006

EBRI found that between 1994 and 2006, the percentage of immigrants in the uninsured population rose from 18.8% to 26.6%. It cited the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, P.L. 104-193 (pdf, 251pp.), as impeding employment-based coverage of immigrants with its five-year ban on health public programs for most newly arrived legal immigrants. Nevertheless,
Over the entire 1994-2006 period, immigrants accounted for 55 percent of the increase in the uninsured. The ranks of the uninsured are likely to grow as immigration continues to increase.

(2) Saving for Health Care Expenses in Retirement: The Use of Health Savings Accounts

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are tax-exempt accounts than can be used for health care expenses. EBRI studied the savings needed for health insurance premiums and other healthcare expenses in retirement and whether HSAs could be used for those expenses. It concluded that the maximum savings that can be accumulated in an HSA will be "far from sufficient" to cover insurance and out-of-pocket health expenses in retirement, especially since HSAs can be used for health care during one's working years or to pay for COBRA when unemployed.

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