It seems that not a lot of people I talk to know about HSAs. Health Savings Accounts. It's a federally recognized form of health insurance.
The benefit: you put money aside every year for medical expenses, and unlike Flex Spend accounts, the money in the account can accumulate year after year. The money is pre-tax, and can grow tax-free. However, you can only put in a fixed amount annually - this year it was $3000. And the money is yours to use on whatever medical expenses you deem fit - and that is included on a list of covered medical expenses by the IRS. Also, if you don't use it all up, it can pass to your beneficiaries when you die.
The catch: you have to have HDHP insurance: High-Deductible Health Plan. This is like a major medical insurance... only there aren't a lot of options in NY. I found only one company carried this kind of plan when I was looking - it covers hospital, and even some preventative (an annual gyn and physical exam, well-child care, and mammogram). The company is Emblem Health, a conglomeration of HIP and GHI. It seems though that since I locked that in, the availibility of the plan or the cost of it changed... I have a friend who looked into it and didn't find what I did.
So I don't know what will happen to the insurance I have in place, but I figure now's the time to lock in something you want to keep, because with new legislation in the works it may or may not be an option in the future!
Being pretty young (38), and being in good health, I don't plan on using much of the money in the near future, so I can let it accumulate, and one day it may cover my long-term health needs... Which is better than just paying an insurance company every month only to find that they won't cover alternative medicine, and they won't cover long-term health care, and they give you a hassle for every other supposedly covered services! Pay them every month and they spend it, or pay myself every month and I can keep it. Hmm, the choice seems too easy!