President Obama promised Americans that “If you like the plan you have now, you can keep it.” It was a fundamental promise of Obamacare.
But if the coverage you like comes via a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), that promise may not hold.
A recent analysis from HSA Consulting Services concludes the new law will probably lead to major changes in how consumers can use such plans. And many of those changes may make the accounts far less appealing. It all depends of how the Department of Health and Human Services writes the regs, says study author Roy Ramthun.
The Obamacare law limits these consumer-controlled accounts in two ways: it restricts the types of health products you can purchase with your HSA money, and it reduces the amount of money you’ll be able to put into your FSA.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a price hike, too. It doubles—to a whopping 20 percent—the tax penalty for withdrawing HSA funds to cover non-medical expenses.
But the worst news for those using HSAs is the provision requiring all policies to cover at least 60 percent of the actuarial value of the benefits offered. What’s the actual value? No one really knows—not until the Health and Human Services Department issues regulations on how to calculate it.
Will contributions to HSAs be included in these actuarial-value calculations? HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will make that call. And if she rules “no,” then high-deductible health plans including HSAs will no longer be viable… and you can kiss your plan good-bye.
A major problem with our health system is that consumers typically have little say in how their health care dollars are spent. HSAs and FSAs help vest that decision-making power in the hands of consumers, rather than in HSS bureaucrats.
To learn more about the benefits of consumer-driven, patient-centered health reform, click here.