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Making Hospitals Cry Uncle

Has insurer J. Patrick Rooney found an unorthodox way to turn up the heat?

Conservative millionaire J. Patrick Rooney is on a mission from the Almighty: Bring down crushing and "ungodly" health-care costs. For more than a decade, he has worked to replace traditional insurance with tax-free health savings accounts (HSAS), which people can use to pay for their own medical care. "I'm doing the right thing, and I think the Lord will be pleased about it," he says.

Using his fortune to open doors in Washington, Rooney has relentlessly preached his gospel. Last year, Congress saw the light: GOP lawmakers inserted a $6.4 billion tax break for HSAs into a Medicare prescription-drug bill. And a recent survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting says 75% of employers are likely to offer the accounts by 2006.