By Elise Viebeck - 07/09/14 01:38 PM EDT
Insurance plans that include health savings accounts (HSA) continue to rise in popularity, the trade group for health insurers reported Wednesday.
The number of people enrolled in HSA-eligible plans hit almost 17.4 million early this year, a nearly 12 percent increase since 2013, according to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
The option provides consumers with a tax-advantaged medical savings account to cover healthcare expenses, usually alongside a high-deductible insurance plan.
Republicans strongly support HSAs, arguing the model is market-friendly and encourages consumers to consider their medical expenses more closely.
AHIP agreed in a statement Wednesday.
"HSA plans provide important tools to support individuals and families in their healthcare decisions and to help them save for future medical expenses," AHIP President Karen Ignagni said.
Opponents of the plans, including some Democrats, say the government loses necessary revenue by providing HSA dollars with a tax benefit.
Total enrollment in HSAs has risen an average of 15 percent every year since 2011, AHIP said, with notable growth taking place in the large group market.