Is this a good deal? If you are a high-income individual with a lot more than $10,000 in the bank, this product may not be for you. But if you tend to live paycheck-to-paycheck and have trouble saving for medical expenses, insuring against your deductible may make more sense than trying to fund it with a savings account.
Health Matching Services is a very innovative firm, but it has to struggle with tax laws and regulatory regimes that look like they were designed with no thought at all. And of course, the ridiculously high deductibles offered by primary insurers are the perverse result of Obamacare.
In a rational world, the tax law would provide a level playing field for premium payments and deposits to medical savings accounts. Competition in a secondary insurance market would provide consumers with many choices. For example, some might prefer to self-insure for the first $3,000 and buy the kind of secondary insurance described above for the remaining $7,000 gap.
Who knows? But for the perverse incentives of Obamacare and other insurance regulations, primary insurers might offer these choices. A secondary market for health insurance might not even be necessary.
Lots to like and consider here. We need more details about how tax equalization in the group market vs the individual market will be handled. The expansion of uses and benefits of HSAs is robust and will go along way to establishing more ways to self-insure and less reliance on networks and government programs; both are a good thing. The flexible, market-friendly Interstate Market for Health Insurance Cooperative Governing of Individual Health Insurance Coverage will be a welcome change. Again, devil is always in the details. Stay tuned for more details and insightful analysis here on the Sovereign Patient; we will post them as available.
Effective as of the date of enactment of this bill, the following provisions of Obamacare are repealed:
- Individual and employer mandates, community rating restrictions, rate review, essential health benefits requirement, medical loss ratio, and other insurance mandates.
Protecting Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions:
- Provides a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
- Restores HIPAA pre-existing conditions protections. Prior to Obamacare, HIPAA guaranteed those within the group market could obtain continuous health coverage regardless of preexisting conditions.
Equalize the Tax Treatment of Health Insurance:
- Individuals who receive health insurance through an employer are able to exclude the premium amount from their taxable income. However, this subsidy is unavailable for those that do not receive their insurance through an employer but instead shop for insurance on the individual market.
- Equalizes the tax treatment of the purchase of health insurance for individuals and employers. By providing a universal deduction on both income and payroll taxes regardless of how an individual obtains their health insurance, Americans will be empowered to purchase insurance independent of employment. Furthermore, this provision does not interfere with employer-provided coverage for Americans who prefer those plans.
Expansion of Health Savings Accounts:
- Tax Credit for HSA Contributions
- Provides individuals the option of a tax credit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer for contributions to an HSA. If an individual chooses not to accept the tax credit or contributes in excess of $5,000, those contributions are still tax-preferred.
- Maximum Contribution Limit to HSA. Removes the maximum allowable annual contribution, so that individuals may make unlimited contributions to an HSA.
- Eliminates the requirement that a participant in an HSA be enrolled in a high deductible health care plan. This section removes the HSA plan type requirement to allow individuals with all types of insurance to establish and use an HSA.
- This would also enable individuals who are eligible for Medicare, VA benefits, TRICARE, IHS, and members of health care sharing ministries to be eligible to establish an HSA.
- Allowance of Distributions for Prescription and OTC Drugs o Allows prescription and OTC drug costs to be treated as allowable expenses of HSAs.
- Purchase of Health Insurance from HSA Account o Currently, HSA funds may not be used to purchase insurance or cover the cost of premiums. Allowing the use of HSA funds for insurance premiums will help make health coverage more affordable for American families.
- Medical Expenses Incurred Prior to Account Establishment o Allows qualified expenses incurred prior to HSA establishment to be reimbursed from an HSA as long as the account is established prior to tax filing.
- Administrative Error Correction Before Due Date of Return o Amends current law by allowing for administrative or clerical error corrections on filings.
- Allowing HSA Rollover to Child or Parent of Account Holder o Allows an account holder’s HSA to rollover to a child, parent, or grandparent, in addition to a spouse.
- Equivalent Bankruptcy Protections for HSAs as Retirement Funds o Most tax-exempt retirement accounts are also fully exempt from bankruptcy by federal law. While some states have passed laws that exempt HSA funds from being seized in bankruptcy, there is no federal protection for HSA funds in bankruptcy.
- Certain Exercise Equipment and Physical Fitness Programs to be Treated as Medical Care. Expands allowable HSA expenses to include equipment for physical exercise or health coaching, including weight loss programs.
- Nutritional and Dietary Supplements to be Treated as Medical Care o Amends the definition of “medical care” to include dietary and nutritional supplements for the purposes of HSA expenditures.
- Certain Providers Fees to be Treated as Medical Care o Allows HSA funds to be used for periodic fees paid to medical practitioners for access to medical care.
- Capitated Primary Care Payments o HSAs can be used for pre-paid physician fees, which includes payments associated with “concierge” or “direct practice” medicine.
- Provisions Relating to Medicare o Allows Medicare enrollees to contribute their own money to the Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs).
Interstate Market for Health Insurance Cooperative Governing of Individual Health Insurance Coverage:
- Increases access to individual health coverage by allowing insurers licensed to sell policies in one state to offer them to residents of any other state.
- Exempts issuers from secondary state laws that would prohibit or regulate their operation in the secondary state. However, states may impose requirements such as consumer protections and applicable taxes, among others.
- Prohibits an issuer from offering, selling, or issuing individual health insurance coverage in a secondary state: If the state insurance commissioner does not use a risk-based capital formula for the determination of capital and surplus requirements for all issuers. Unless both the secondary and primary states have legislation or regulations in place establishing an independent review process for individuals who have individual health insurance coverage; or The issuer provides an acceptable mechanism under which the review is conducted by an independent medical reviewer or panel.
- Gives sole jurisdiction to the primary state to enforce the primary state’s covered laws in the primary state and any secondary state.
- Allows the secondary state to notify the primary state if the coverage offered in the secondary state fails to comply with the covered laws in the primary state.
Minus the introduction and Q&A, the 45 -50 minute presentation is well worth your time. Engaging delivery and compelling case to consider… the cost drivers and distortions come from HOW we access and bill, as opposed to WHAT services are actually exchanged or provided. The key to understanding healthcare costs and pricing is to acknowledge that the answer is contained within our insurance card…and the processes it dictates and the tax/regulatory environment that it operates in. It is kind of like hiding something right out in the open; we look for clues everywhere except for what’s right in front of us. We tend to point fingers at easily identifiable components but fail to see what links them.
If the United States adopted a similar approach to public policy, there would be no deficit problem in this country.
How the system works. In Singapore, people are required to save for health care, retirement income and other needs. They can use their forced saving to purchase a home, pay education expenses, and purchase life insurance and disability insurance. For individuals up to age 50, the required saving rate is 36% of income (nominally divided: 20% from the employee and 16% from the employer). Of this amount, 7 percentage points is for health care and is deposited in a separate Medisave account. Individuals are also automatically enrolled in catastrophic health insurance with a deductible of about US $1,172, although they can opt out. When a Medisave account balance reaches about US $34,100 (an amount equal to a little less than half of the median family income) any excess funds are rolled over into another account and may be used for non-health care purposes.
In 1984, Richard Rahn and I wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal in which we proposed a savings account for health care. We called it a Medical IRA.
What does the price of gasoline and the price of a chest x-ray have in common? Not much really, except the price of both have gone up in the Atlanta area recently; but the former did so for expected reasons that are predicated on behavioral economics and the relationship of demand to price. The latter went up, well, because it could.
But the sticker shock that I’ve experience lately trying to find a price on a simple chest X-ray is not due to any shortages (either perceived or real) or any sudden increase in demand. Nor was it from a sudden increase in the cost of performing an X-ray or some phenomenal increase in quality that created a better image or less radiation exposure. Nope, none of the usual factors that go into predicting price behavior were at play.
One of the best pieces I’ve read that exposes the real cost drivers in healthcare. Many of us have been shouting from the rooftops that the “villains” we implicate are just symptoms of a more fundamental poison in that is embedded in our third-party billing system and the cartel-like system it has created. Thanks to Dave Chase for putting the pieces together so clearly. Given the realities exposed here, we can no longer implicate something that has been virtually wholly absent from the healthcare economy which could have prevented this generational theft: A free market.
The Sovereign Patient
Mike Dendy: I hear the talking heads on business TV (like CNBC) talk about stagnation of incomes for the middle class. Wrong. The additional money is there every year, it’s just going into a pool to pay for healthcare instead of into the pockets of the employees in the form of salary increases.
Americans overpay for healthcare by at least 30% and likely 50% in aggregate. For all intents and purposes, every employer in America gives every covered member on their healthcare plan a blank check every year and says….consume all the healthcare you want, anywhere you want, anytime you want, and never be concerned with or ask the price because it’s all paid for. Deductibles and co-pays are irrelevant, especially to hospitals, because pricing is so high it becomes somewhat immaterial.
Trillions Have Been Redistributed from the American Workforce to the Healthcare Industry Creating An Economic Depression for the Middle Class The Washington Post and Vox have done excellent reporting that shows U.S. spends so much more than other countries for one simple reason — price. The good news is that some […]
Who is likely to negotiate the lowest fee with a doctor, hospital or some other health care provider? The federal government? A large employer? An insurance company? Or, a patient spending her own money? Strange as it may seem, the answer is often the patient. One of the most persistent myths on […]
Canadians coming to the United States (and paying a cash price upfront) were paying almost half as much as US employers were paying and even less than the typical payment by Medicare. Think about that. These patients not only lacked a big bureaucracy to bargain on their behalf; they were foreigners.
The other factor is third party payment. After the deductibles and copayments are exhausted (which is almost immediately in the case of a knee replacement) the only payer is the third party. The incentive of the hospital is not to lower charges, but to raise them. In fact hospitals typically try to maximize against third-party payment formulas and they have sophisticated computer programs to help them do it.
An individual patient, paying with his own money and willing to travel to another city for care, is a different kind of buyer. If the hospital wants his patronage, it has strong incentives to compete on price.
This very large insurance company, representing tens of thousands of people and their very large employer (the state of California), achieved a remarkable reduction in costs by doing nothing more than sending patients into the hospital marketplace with the knowledge that the money they had to spend totaled no more than $30,000.
Oh, I neglected to mention there is one class of customer that gets knee replacements for as little as one-fifth of what Medicare pays: the family dog. This is for a procedure that involves the same technology and requires the same basic surgical skills as knee replacements for humans.
Source: Free The Patient – Forbes