HSA News for July 1, 2019

HSA news is compiled weekly by Mr HSA, Roy Ramthun.

News from Washington

Trump Executive Order Calls for Disclosure of Hospital Prices

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 24 that calls for upfront disclosure by hospitals of actual prices for common tests and procedures to help keep costs down. Trump’s order will also require that patients be told ahead of time what their out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays will be for many procedures.

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President Proposes HSA Expansion

President Trump signed an executive order on June 24 directing his secretaries of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor to issue guidance in two important areas of HSA and another that affects Health FSAs.

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Sens. Thune, Carper Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to High-Value Services in HSA-Eligible HDHPs

On June 24, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Tom Carper (D-DE) reintroduced the Chronic Disease Management Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure HDHPs that are used with HSAs can opt to cover care related to chronic disease management prior to a beneficiary reaching their plan deductible.

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Senate Health Committee Advances Bipartisan Package to Lower Health Costs

On June 26, the Senate Health Committee voted to advance a bipartisan package aimed at lowering health care costs to the full Senate. The measure protects patients from getting massive “surprise” medical bills when they get care from out-of-network doctors and restricts anti-competitive provisions in insurance contracts with hospitals that can drive up costs.

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‘Medicare for All’ Emerges as Early Divide in First Democratic Debate

During the June 26 Democratic presidential primary debate, health policies were among the key issues the 10 hopeful candidates onstage used to help differentiate themselves from the pack. Health care dominated early, but the candidates broke ranks on the details and not all of their claims stayed strictly within the lines.

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Voters Have Big Health-Care Worries, but Not the Ones Democrats Are Talking About

As they campaign, most of the 23 Democratic candidates for president are trumpeting bold ideas to achieve the party’s long-held dream of ushering in health coverage for every American. The problem is that many voters are not focused on such lofty goals. They want something simpler — to pay less for their own health care.

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HSA Studies & Analysis

SHRM Releases Its Annual Benefits Survey

The latest annual benefits survey from SHRM found that 85% of organizations prefer PPO plans, but interest in HDHPs linked to HSAs is rising. 59% of organizations offer an HDHP plan option that’s linked with an HSA/FSA/HRA while 19 percent offer an HDHP option that’s not linked with an account.

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HSA Compliance Corner

Direct Primary Care Group Seeks Treasury Exemption From HSA Rules

The Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation has asked the Treasury Department to issue guidance that would ensure direct primary care practices are not considered health plans under HSA rules.

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Are Manufacturer Drug Coupons and HDHPs a Good Fit?

Applying copay assistance programs to HDHPs can become complicated. A copay assistance program is reasonably viewed as impermissible coverage for an HDHP – meaning that a participant enrolled in an HDHP could not utilize the copay assistance program until after the HDHP deductible has been satisfied for the year.

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HSA Industry News

HealthEquity to Acquire WageWorks in $2 Billion Deal

HSA provider HealthEquity announced on June 27 that it will acquire employee benefits administrator WageWorks in an all-cash deal valued at just more than $2 billion.

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UnitedHealthcare Agrees to $3.2B Deal to Acquire Payments Firm Equian

UnitedHealth Group plans to buy healthcare payments firm Equian LLC from its private equity owner for about $3.2 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. There is speculation that UnitedHealth would merge Equian into its Optum health services, which could help Optum branch out beyond healthcare, as Equian also serves other types of insurance.

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HSA Industry Best Practices

Tips and Tricks for Engaging Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in HSAs

Health care costs are a major concern for employees of any age, but their mindset toward managing these expenses varies by generation. For employee benefits managers, these differences point to the need for tailored messaging by generation around the value of HSAs.

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The HSA Market

Trump’s Plan for Health-Care Pricing Could Expand This Lucrative Workplace Benefit

President Donald Trump’s executive order to make hospital pricing more transparent could also have another unexpected benefit for consumers, experts say. The order could make insurance plans linked with an HSA a better deal for people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and depression.

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7 Must-Have Benefits for Job Seekers Today

Today's job market is fairly competitive, and if you have open positions to fill, it helps to know what candidates are looking for. The following seven benefits are ones you should strongly consider if they're not already part of your offering, according to a survey from Schwab (HSAs are #5 on the list).

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Pairing Health, Financial Wellness Benefits Yields Better Results

Employers that provide traditional health and wellness offerings alongside financial wellness programs are likely to have a healthier workforce, according to research by Prudential Financial. Workers’ physical and mental health improves, and their level of stress reduces, the company says.

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HSAs & Retirement

Want a Discount on Your Retirement Healthcare? Use an HSA

An HSA is not usually considered a retirement account. However, when you withdraw the money, the 401(k) and traditional IRA are both taxed. The table shows that an HSA is the only account where the tax rates are all zeros. The only catch is that, for the tax percentage to be zero, the money in an HSA must be used only for eligible healthcare expenses.

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HSAs: The Convergence Between Health and Retirement

Because of the triple tax preference, some individuals might find using an HSA as a savings vehicle for health care expenses in retirement more advantageous from a tax perspective than saving in a 401(k) plan or other retirement savings plan. However, HSAs have some limitations when it comes to saving for health care expenses in retirement.

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Saving for Health Care in Retirement

HSAs were introduced in 2003. They allow you to put money into an account for current or future medical expenses. Not only is the contribution tax deductible, but the growth, when used appropriately, is also tax-free. The problem is, the rules seem to be confusing for some.

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Maximizing Your HSA

What Can I Use My HSA For?

In most cases, an eligible expense would be considered the cost of anything that is designed to return you to a normal state of health. That can be anything from doctor’s bills and prescriptions to eyeglasses and dental fillings. Here’s some examples of eligible expenses.

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What I Learned Switching to an HDHP

I never considered switching to an HDHP until a trusted coworker said she had done the math and was considering it because it was, ultimately, the less expensive option. After running the numbers myself and consulting with a friend, the HDHP did, indeed, work out to be the better deal. We decided to try it for a year and see how it worked out. Here are some things we learned along the way.

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Consumer-Driven Health Care

Despite Naysayers, Trump's Executive Order on Health Care Transparency Is a Breakthrough

The President's Executive Order paves the way for something the health care industry never truly experienced: an open market where providers compete for discerning customers, AKA patients. It is ridiculous that this EO is necessary at all—what other business routinely conceals its prices until after the sale?

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The Only Health Care Prices That Matter to Consumers

One big reason general information on prices has only limited utility to consumers is that what they most want to know is not the price of an MRI, or a knee replacement of any other service at this hospital or that, but what they will have to pay for it themselves out of pocket under their insurance plan.

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High Deductibles, Varying Costs Encourage Budget-Based Medical Decisions

Maura Rose advises her clients to look for bargains and compare prices online before making a purchase. Rose helps clients find the best medical treatment they can afford. Shopping for good prices for medical procedures and care is more important than ever, now that more than 43 percent of Americans younger than 65 belong to HDHPs.

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Toward Meaningful Price Transparency in Health Care

The federal government is the only entity with power and regulatory reach to redirect how the market functions. It should take two steps. First, it should promulgate a required pricing list for a set of common and standardized services and interventions. Second, it should require insurance plans to provide reference-based payments, tied to in-network rates, for all the services on the federal list.

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Out-of-Pocket Costs Increased Across All Healthcare in 2018

Patients experienced out-of-pocket increases as high as 12% for their healthcare costs last year, according to a new analysis by TransUnion Healthcare. The analysis shows increases occurred in all categories including inpatient, outpatient and emergency department care.

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Hospital's Pay Plan: 25 Percent Up Front

Piedmont Healthcare is requiring patients who shoulder the entire cost of a non-emergency medical service to pay 25% of the bill before they get the care. The patients who will face the new charge fall into two categories: those who are uninsured and pay for their own care, and those who have insurance with high deductibles.

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Could Payment Plans Help Both Patients and Providers?

Patients are now responsible for about 30 percent of the cost of medical treatment, and hospitals collect only about 30 percent of that amount. Mounting debt has resulted in hospitals resorting to aggressive tactics to collect unpaid bills. While some hospitals have been going to great lengths to get patients to pay up, offering payment plans isn’t widespread.

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HealthBridge Raises $8.2M to Continue Scaling Operations

As more employers shift to HDHPs, hospitals and doctors have wrestled with collecting the portion of the bill from patients who have not yet met their deductibles. That’s where Greg VandenBosch wants to carve out a role in the health care system with HealthBridge Inc., which provides employees with HDHPs an option to pay off their medical bills.

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The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor

Nonprofit hospitals pay virtually no local, state or federal income tax. In return, they provide community benefits, including charity care to low-income patients. But in Memphis, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has brought 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in just five years.

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Bryan CaplanComment