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Health Subcommittee Examines Ways to Lower Costs, Expand Access

June 07, 2018

This week, the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a hearing on lowering costs and expanding access to health care through consumer-directed health plans. Due to flawed Obamacare policies and regulations, health insurance premiums have continued to rise and health care options have been limited for many hard-working Americans. That’s why Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other consumer-directed health plans are an essential tool for increasing health care choices, as well as to help drive down the cost of health care.

Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) started the hearing by saying:

“Health care reform should empower individuals and families to make decisions for themselves based on what fits their needs and budget. One of the best tools we have to accomplish this goal is consumer-directed health plans that are paired with Health Savings Accounts or ‘HSAs.’ These plans offer lower premiums and a higher deductible to encourage better use of health care services. Engaging consumers in their health care spending is critical to reining in our system’s ever-increasing costs. These plans continue to increase in popularity, now covering more than 21.8 million Americans.”

Roy Ramthun, President and Founder of HSA Consulting Services, testified about how HSAs can be used to help more Americans:

Eligibility for HSAs should be expanded so that millions more Americans can take advantage of their protection against high out-of-pocket costs. As deductibles have risen dramatically for all plans since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, there is a greater need for helping Americans save for their out-of-pocket costs. HSAs could be part of the solution to this problem. HSAs are not limited to workers with the right employment – anyone that is eligible can establish and contribute to an HSA.”

Matt Eyles, President & CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), discussed why there has been a large increase in the number of Americans with HSAs:

“There are now more Americans currently enrolled in HSA eligible plans than in the entire enrollment of Medicare Advantage program. The dramatic growth in enrollment is because of the real value that HSA plans deliver: consumer choice, patient control, and the opportunity for individuals to use tax refunds to pay current medical expenses while also setting aside money for future health care costs.”

Jody Dietel, Chief Compliance Officer, WageWorks, shared why HSAs are so important for so many across America:

“Many people assume that HSAs are used by highly paid employees.  Our data shows this to be incorrect.  The median household for an HSA account holder in our book of business is 56,100 dollars – it’s rapidly declined over the last few years as HSAs have become far more prevalent.”

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) echoed this sentiment when he said:

“These are middle income folks, average, middle class Americans that are interested in using their own healthcare dollars for their own healthcare needs. We talked a little bit about some of the incentives that are needed, and some of us have legislation that actually has more incentives to use HSAs and have a little more flexibility, removing limitations.”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) discussed the need for Americans to be able to use their HSAs to purchase health-related items:

“I believe it’s more important than ever that cost-effective over-the-counter medicines are treated the same as other eligible medical expenses in tax-preferred health care accounts. I don’t know why we should be making it harder for Americans to use their own pre-tax dollars to purchase these everyday health care products.”

Chairman Roskam closed by emphasizing the important role HSAs play in driving down health care costs and their importance in allowing families to spend their health care dollars how they choose.

The Committee will continue its work to expand access to more affordable health insurance options through consumer-directed health care plans this summer.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the hearing.