Wall Street Journal
The GOP’s Clean Bills of Health Savings
By The Editorial Board
July 29, 2018
The Senate plans to stay in Washington for August this year, and here’s an idea to keep busy: Pass some House health-care reforms that are modest improvements even Democrats should like.
The House last week passed a set of bills that included changes in Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, which are tax preferred accounts that allow individuals to save for future medical expenses. More than 20 million people have HSAs, which Congress created in 2003, but arbitrary restrictions cramp enrollment.
For one, a person has to be on a plan with a high deductible. A plan can’t cover certain services below the deductible like telemedicine or diabetic test strips, which can save costs over time. HSA money also can’t buy over-the-counter medicine, which is often cheaper than prescription drugs.
HSAs tend to be concentrated in the employer-sponsored or large group market, where insurance is likely to be available and comprehensive. But in the individual market less than 30% of ObamaCare plans are compatible with a health-savings account, according to an analysis from health consultant Roy Ramthun. The rest have deductibles too low (13.7%) or out-of-pocket maximums too high (56.6%) to comport with restrictions.
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