HSA News for July 29, 2019

HSA News is compiled by Mr. HSA Roy Ramthun.

News from Washington

Senate Panel Advances Bipartisan Bill to Lower Drug Prices Amid GOP Blowback

The Senate Finance Committee voted to advance a bipartisan deal to lower drug prices to the full Senate, though nine Republicans voted against the measure. The large number of GOP defections doesn't bode well for the likelihood of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bringing the bill up for a vote in the full Senate, at least not without substantial changes.

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Senate Will Not Vote on Bipartisan Health Costs Bill Before Leaving for August Break

The Senate will not vote on a bipartisan measure aimed at lowering health care costs before lawmakers leave Washington for the August recess. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tn) and Patty Murray (D-WA) had pushed for the measure to get a vote this month. Alexander and Murray are now expressing hope that the Senate will vote on the bill upon returning in September.

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HSA Compliance Corner

New York Plans to Make HIV Prevention Drug Free Through Insurance

New York state will require health insurance companies to cover the cost of treatments to detect and prevent HIV infection starting next year. This includes the drug PrEP, which prevents HIV transmission.

The state sent a letter to insurance companies on July 25 saying it would require them to cover PrEP at no cost to patients.

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Webinar: HSAs, Deductibles and Telehealth – Navigating Murky Waters

Join us for a webinar featuring Roy Ramthun and Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. Mr. Ramthun will discuss recent regulatory developments, including President Trump’s Executive Order on price transparency and other proposals to expand consumer-driven health care programs like HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs.

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HSA Industry Best Practices

Evolving HSAs Pose Challenges for Employees and Employers

There are a number of solutions to make HSAs work a little better for everyone. Education is one; your employees need multiple opportunities to learn about how best to use HSAs for everyone’s benefit.

I also believe that wellness and consumerism need to be a focus of every employer. Finally, employers should take control of their HSA banking relationship and carve it out from carriers.

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Education About Health Benefits Can Lower Costs for Employers and Employees

Health care coverage is ranked as one of the top three benefits an employer offers by nearly 80% of employees surveyed, followed by a competitive salary and a 401(k). Many employees don’t understand health benefits—including that most insurance covers preventive care. Better education can lead employees to use benefits correctly and become healthier.

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The HSA Market

Five Common Misconceptions About Consumer-Directed Healthcare Arrangements

Americans are typically savvy consumers about nearly everything -- except healthcare, where knowledge seems to have taken a large drop. Worse yet, the lack of knowledge lies in the basics. This is regrettable because tax-advantaged benefit programs empower employees to take control of their healthcare dollars while allowing employers to reduce the costs of their health coverage.

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The Cadillac Tax Repeal That Isn't - Not Yet, Maybe Never

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Cadillac Tax. We're one step closer to slaying this dragon, though its repeal is far from certain. If it's not repealed or delayed this year, it will be repealed or delayed at some point in the near future, before anyone ever actually pays the tax.

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Improve, Don’t Repeal, Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax

Congress has twice delayed the Cadillac Tax and weakened it by allowing employers to deduct the levy itself from their profits. But repealing the Cadillac Tax is a bad idea. Instead, Congress should modify it to encourage the use of HSAs.

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HSAs & Retirement

HSAs: The Other Retirement Account

One reason HSAs get pigeonholed as medical-only accounts is their name: health savings accounts. Instead of thinking of HSAs as primarily for healthcare, it can be helpful to view them as IRAs with a tax-free medical bonus.

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An HSA Can Boost Your Portfolio

As more employers shift the costs of health insurance to employees through a focus on HDHPs, the use of an HSA is becoming increasingly popular. Interestingly, the HSA isn't just a vehicle for saving for current health care costs. It can also provide you with another way to use a tax-advantage account to grow your wealth.

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How Does My HSA Work With My Medicare Plan?

I would like to contribute as much money to my HSA as possible so I can benefit from these pre-tax contributions. You get five gold stars for reader of the year! Your thinking and maximization strategy fulfill my highest expectations. I especially like the tactic of waiting until 70-1/2 to file for Social Security to extend your HSA contribution window. Very savvy.

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Maximizing Your HSA

Understanding How Your HSA Helps You Save Money

Navigating health insurance plans can be confusing. One health insurance product that's relatively easy to understand is an HSA. This type of account can help account holders save money on the costs associated with their healthcare.

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3 HSA Mistakes to Avoid

It pays to open an HSA if you're eligible, because in doing so, you could reap loads of tax savings on the medical expenses you have no choice but to pay for anyway. But if you're going to save in an HSA, be sure to avoid the following mistakes.

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You Can Use Your HSA for a Lot MoreThan You Think

Guess what? You can use your HSA money for a lot more than emergency room visits. We're talking everything from sunscreen and contact lens solution to baby monitors and wheelchairs.

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23andMe Just Became a Lot Cheaper Thanks to a New IRS Classification Ruling

Popular genetic testing company 23andMe received a major boost from the IRS, which revealed that more than half the cost of 23andMe's health-and-ancestry-testing kit is now considered "medical care" for tax purposes. The tax break only applies to purchases made with an HSA or an FSA.

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Consumer-Driven Health Care

Consumers Will Be Able to Pay for Doctor Visits on Their Phones, Via Anthem

Anthem Inc. is launching a new app that will help consumers—including people who don’t have its insurance—to schedule and pay for medical visits through their smartphones, as well as learn potential diagnoses and text with doctors.

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The Average Price for Treating Primary Care Conditions in ED? $2,032, UnitedHealth Says

Each time a patient enters the emergency department with a condition that can be treated in a primary care setting, it comes at an average cost of $2,032 to the healthcare system, according to an analysis published by UnitedHealth Group. That's 12 times higher than visiting a physician office ($167 on average) and 10 times higher than an urgent care visit ($193 on average).

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At-Home Health Tests Get the Direct-to-Consumer Treatment

Everlywell Inc. is a three-year-old company providing three dozen at-home kits that test for everything from sexually transmitted diseases to food allergies. Founder Julia Cheek set out to create a product that would offer consumers easily accessible tests from stores such as Target and CVS; clear results on a sleek app; and, most important, flat fees. Most Everlywell tests cost from $69 to $150.

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Your Go-To Guide to Decode Medical Bills

Kaiser Health News gives you this user-friendly toolkit to help patients understand some of the ins and outs of medical billing, what to do if you receive a surprise medical bill and things to keep in mind before getting medical care. Here’s your go-to guide to decode medical bills.

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Revisiting The Internal Revenue Service’s Eligible Medical And Dental Expenses

As it stands, the IRS definitions of eligible expenses outlined in Publication 502 are unclear, inconsistent, and do not reflect national public health priorities. We feel that the Pub 502 should be revisited to more clearly and consistently define eligible medical expenses, among other things.

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Bryan CaplanComment