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This book outlines the hidden advantages of Health Savings Accounts, which the author had a hand in creating in 1981, along with John McClaughry of Vermont when John was Senior Policy Advisor in the Reagan White House. HSAs had more advantages than we realized. By turning them into retirement funds at the end, not a word was changed but they created a new incentive to save, by adding a new reason to save. By simplifying reimbursement, they exposed the ineffectiveness of third-party policing and saved money to be multiplied by investment. They were a vehicle for subsidies to the poor, a Christmas savings fund for the frugal, and interstate mobility for the rich.
Finally, the idea dawned that such simplicity provided an avenue for a gradual transition to new programs, as well as an escape hatch if they failed. Beads on a string, as it were, with a common retirement fund at the end, as a universal incentive for savings in each program added. It might take fifty years to implement every step proposed. But then, it took fifty years to get into this situation.
Originally published: Tuesday, November 22, 2016; most-recently modified: Monday, May 20, 2019