Perdue signs bills aimed at easing high-deductible access

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ATLANTA (AP) -- Governor Sonny Perdue today signed two bills aimed at making high-deductible health insurance plans more accessible to Georgians. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich watched Perdue sign both measures into law.

One of the bills eliminates the companies' state and local premium taxes on high deductible plans and is expected to save them $146 million over five years.

Another helps with the creation of the health savings accounts. It allows employers to set up for their workers the plans into which pretax dollars may be deposited to defray medical costs.

Gingrich called the high-deductible plans a free-market approach to health policy that rewards healthy behavior. The governor said they will help reduce the growing ranks of Georgia's uninsured by offering an affordable option with a low premium.

But consumer health advocate Linda Smith Lowe said most Georgians who are uninsured have modest incomes and are unlikely to be able to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket health expenses.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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