HSAs growing, despite curbs in healthcare law

The law prohibits the use of HSAs to pay for over-the-counter medicine without a doctor's prescription. AHIP said new rules that govern insurers' spending could also undermine HSAs.

The rules require plans to spend 80 or 85 percent of their premium revenues on medical costs, leaving only the remaining 15 or 20 percent for administrative expenses and profit. But plans that include an HSA are usually designed with high deductibles and low premiums.

"While these plans typically have lower benefit costs, they are not necessarily less costly to administer on a per-enrollee basis," AHIP said. "Policymakers should recognize the unique nature of HSA plans to preserve consumers’ access to this important coverage option. "

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has introduced a bill to expand the use of HSAs.