HSA Dollar The number of people under 65 with high-deductible coverage and no HSA increased 5.9%, to about 24 million. (Photo: Shutterstock)

U.S. residents’ use of public and private health coverage stayed about the same between 2016 and the first three quarters of 2017, but use of health savings accounts (HSAs) may have climbed 15 percent.

The number of U.S. residents under the age of 65 who had HSAs increased to 17.9 million in 2017, from 15.5 million in 2016, according to new National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data.

The number of people under 65 with high-deductible coverage and no HSA increased 5.9 percent, to about 24 million.

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Analysts at the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, posted the latest batch of data here.

Center analysts adjust the definition of “high deductible” for inflation each year, to keep ordinary growth in deductibles from turning all health coverage into high-deductible coverage. From 2015 through 2017, the high-deductible cut-off was $1,300 for self-only coverage and $2,600 for family coverage.

The center runs the NHIS program to find out what’s happening in the U.S. health care system. It based the data for the first three quarters of 2017 on surveys of about 59,000 families.

The center does not copyright the NHIS data. Insurance agents and brokers can use the data on their websites and in their social media campaigns without worrying about violating any copyright restrictions.

Insurance use

NHIS managers classify coverage from an off-exchange individual major medical policy, coverage from a policy purchased through an Affordable Care Act public exchange program, and coverage from an employer health plan as private health insurance.

The overall uninsured rate held steady at 9 percent.

The NHIS private health coverage use rate held steady at 62.5 percent.

Changes in many other uninsurance and coverage use indicators included in the new report were within the margin of error for those indicators.

The NHIS team found only 9.7 million Affordable Care Act public exchange plan users in the third quarter of 2017, down from 11 million in the third quarter of 2016, but the survey reaches too few exchange plan users for that apparent drop to be statistically significant. The decrease could reflect a real decrease in exchange plan use, but it could also be the result of a random error.

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