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Two bills that would help more Americans access a personal option in their health care

Mar 22, 2021 by AFP

America has some of the best health care in the world, something for which we have all been grateful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite significant strains on their time and workloads, our doctors and nurses have been able to deliver quality care to patients, with the help of world-class therapeutics, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and top-notch training.

But there are many problems with our health care system — problems that predate this health crisis. Americans must often jump through bureaucratic hoops to access care. Surprise medical bills with hefty fees attached frequently make it more difficult for patients to get the medical attention they need, when they need it.

Americans need a personal option, one that lowers prices, expands access, ensures transparency, and places the patient first when it comes to care.

Fortunately, members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make a personal option easier to reach by allowing more Americans to access and use health savings accounts: Representative Chip Roy’s Personalized Care Act (H.R. 725) and Senators Marco Rubio and Tim Scott’s Health Savings Act (S. 380).

How does the Personalized Care Act work?

Only about 10 percent of Americans own and contribute to an HSA, a problem made worse by onerous government mandates and requirements.

Expanding access to these accounts would help more people put away money for medical care and allow them to save between 10 percent and 40 percent on each expense.

That’s why Rep. Roy’s Personalized Care Act would allow most forms of health insurance to be treated as “HSA-qualified,” meaning more Americans could use these accounts.

The bill would, among other things:

  • Expand HSA access for those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, veterans’ health benefits, Indian health benefits, short-term limited-duration health plans, and others.
  • Allow individuals to use their tax-free HSA funds to pay for direct primary arrangements — giving them round-the-clock access to the country’s top providers — and their health insurance premiums.
  • Increase the annual HSA contribution limit from $3,600 to $10,800, and twice this amount for a family.

It would also soften the 20 percent penalty when using an HSA for non-qualified expenditures, bringing it down to 10 percent.

The Health Savings Act further improves HSAs

Like the Personalized Care Act, the Health Savings Act would also allow Americans to pay for health insurance premiums and direct primary care arrangements with their HSA funds and increase the contribution cap. The bill would further improve HSAs by allowing working seniors and their employers to contribute to accounts after reaching the Medicare eligibility age of 65.

More groups would also be allowed to use HSAs, including:

  • Members of health care sharing-ministries.
  • Those who receive health care benefits through an onsite medical clinic of an employer.
  • Americans who rely on Indian Health Services.

The Health Savings Act would also recognize that Americans need other forms of health care, in addition to provider access. The bill would create a new medical expense tax deduction for HSA owners to purchase exercise equipment, physical fitness programs, gym memberships, and nutritional supplements, among other things.

A personal option would expand access to the medical services Americans need. These two bills would help make that a reality.

Americans are saddled with regulations that make health care more expensive and harder to access. They need a personal option which recognizes that choice and competition are the best tools to improve care. Tell lawmakers to help Americans access a personal option in their health care.