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Surging HSA Enrollment: More Americans Will Pay Democrats’ Health Overhaul Taxes; At Risk of Losing Their Current Health Plan Entirely

May 19, 2010

A new survey released today by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) shows that, in 2009, 2 million more Americans enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with accompanying Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  As a result, total enrollment in these plans has increased from the previously reported 8 million Americans to 10 million Americans. 

Unfortunately, these 10 million Americans could lose their current health plan when the Democrats’ health overhaul is implemented.  The Democrats’ health law requires that insurance plans meet a minimum actuarial value which dictates the amount of money plan enrollees can spend to cover their health care needs.  This requirement will be more fully defined in regulations forthcoming from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.  By their very nature, HDHP/HSA plans require participants to carry a higher deductible but enrollees are allowed to save money (on a tax-free basis) to meet these requirements. 

Despite their popularity, which is evident by the 25 percent increase in enrollment in the past year, HDHP/HSA plans may not meet these new requirements if the HHS Secretary does not include employer contributions to a HSA account when calculating the actuarial value of an insurance plan.  A strict bureaucratic definition could force 10 million Americans out of their current health plan, breaking the President’s promise that you can keep the coverage you have and like. 

The Democrats’ health overhaul also prohibits these Americans from using their HSA funds to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drugs beginning in 2011.  Some drugs, such as Claritin and Prilosec, can be purchased over the counter at half the price of their prescription counterparts.  The Democrats’ new restrictions will force 10 million Americans to spend more money on OTC medication, either by forcing them to now use after-tax dollars or to buy the more expensive prescription treatments.  This policy change will also increase taxes on the 35 million Americans in flexible spending arrangements (FSAs).

Additionally, enrollees who use their HSA funds for a “non-qualified medical expense” will see their tax penalty double from 10 percent to 20 percent under the Democrats’ health law.  These two new changes will increase taxes on the 10 million Americans with HSAs by more than $6 billion over the next ten years, or $600 per HSA enrollee.  According to AHIP data, 95 percent of HSA account holders make less than $100,000 a year – a direct violation of President Obama’s promise to not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $200,000 a year.