Sen. John Carlson and the government health savings account piggybank

State Sen. John Carlson, planning for a grabber.

State Sen. John Carlson, planning for a grabber.

With some disturbingly audible heavy breathing, State Sen. John Carlson took to the floor at the Capitol yesterday to proudly declare that he doesn't bother seeing the doctor. Why? Because it may help him bag an annual $1,500, courtesy of Minnesota taxpayers.


Carlson, an insurance agent from Bemidji in real life, was promoting Sen. Mike Parry's proposal replacing health insurance coverage for state workers with private health savings accounts coupled with high-deductible insurance premiums. It's part of the $1.6 billion budget-cutting measure that cleared the Senate yesterday.

HSAs are great if you're a strapping, healthy human upon whom nobody depends for health insurance benefits. But if you've got even a minor medical condition that requires regular care, HSAs are a pain and a drain on your financial well being.

Either way, Carlson says the taxpayer-funded HSA, with its $1,500 annual contribution, amounts to an awesome personal piggy bank:

This is where the big piece is. The $1,500, if you don't go to the doctor, other than for your preventive care, rolls over. Now fast-forward one more year. I didn't use any health services last year, but I had $1,500 that the state put into my health savings account. It's a new year. That $1,500 is still there. The state gives me another $1,500. I now have $3,000 in my health savings account. If my maximum out of pocket is $2,000, I come out $1,000 ahead if I have a heart attack. Members, this is a huge benefit.

Your tax dollars at work.


Here's the text of the bill related to HSAs:

Beginning January 1, 2010 2012, the health insurance benefit plans offered to state employees, including legislators and legislative staff, must be a health savings account-eligible high-deductible health plan that is compatible with the definition of a high-deductible health plan in section of the United States Internal Revenue Code. The following provisions apply: the employer shall deposit $1,500 to an individual health savings account and $2,500 to a family health savings account and the deposit is dependent upon the availability of a biennial appropriation for this purpose.

Read the full text of the bill here.