HSA News for September 9, 2019

HSA News is compiled weekly by Mr. HSA Roy Ramthun.

News from Washington

Congress Faces Sprint to Avoid Another Shutdown

Congress is bracing for a three-week sprint to avoid the second government shutdown of the year. Lawmakers will have 16 working days to reach a deal to fund the government by October 1 or pass a spending patch to kick the fight closer to the holidays. But the House and Senate are coming back to town with plans to move forward on different tracks.

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Push on 'Surprise' Medical Bills Hits New Roadblocks

A bipartisan push for legislation to protect patients from massive "surprise" medical bills is facing a buzzsaw of opposition from doctors and hospitals and reservations from some Democrats worried about delivering President Trump a health care victory when he is still attacking Obamacare.

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HSA Studies & Analysis

HSA Balances: The More You Save, the More You Spend – But Is That Bad?

The question for plan sponsors raised by a recent EBRI study is whether the cost-reducing effects of HDHPs could wear off once individuals have large HSA balances. We’re not sure that follows. Higher spending by people with larger HSA balances does not prove that they are not still spending more carefully than they would otherwise. Remember, it’s still their own money that they are spending.

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HSA Compliance Corner

Multiple Family HSA Contributions?

How are HSA contribution limits affected by how many people on a family contract are HSA-eligible? The rule is easy to apply when only one person is eligible. But what if two or more people are eligible to contribute? The answer to that question depends on the relationship between or among the HSA-eligible adults on the plan, as well as your assessment of the risk.

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HSA Industry News

ConnectYourCare Partners with TouchCare to Provide Concierge Services for Enhanced Participant Experience

ConnectYourCare announced a strategic partnership with TouchCare that provides ConnectYourCare clients the option to supplement their tax-advantaged benefits with dedicated TouchCare personal assistance, to drive participant awareness and adoption of the consumer-driven offerings.

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HSA Industry Best Practices

Investing HSA Savings Is Key to Building Accounts

Devenir's recent report suggests HSA providers, employers and employees are seeing the advantage of being able to invest their HSA savings. But employees will not reap the benefits of HSAs if they don’t fund them. Devenir continues to see seasonality in the percentage of accounts that are unfunded.

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The HSA Market

New Preventive Services Guidelines Good News for Onsite Clinics

Recent IRS guidance identifies a new limited set of preventive care services for individuals with chronic conditions that HSA-qualifying HDHPs may provide on a low- or no-deductible basis. This provides employers with some flexibility to cover more of the upfront costs at an on-site clinic, which may influence an employee's decision to utilize the clinic. And yes, this is what you want.

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HSAs & Retirement

Age 65 in Sight? Avoid Some Pitfalls

Danger awaits at the intersection of HSAs, turning 65, and Medicare eligibility. Here’s what you need to know to help you avoid losing the ability to make and receive contributions to an HSA to reduce your taxable income, build medical equity, and watch your balances buy more medical services in retirement than comparable distributions from a traditional 401(k) plan or IRA.

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Reducing Employee Panic About Health Costs in Retirement

Those planning for retirement have anxiety about future health care costs. It’s understandable when estimates are provided for a total amount of costs during retirement. But, a report from T. Rowe Price contends it’s more practical to look at health care as an annual expense incurred over 20 to 30 years than as a lump sum.

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Simple Ways to Reduce Employees’ Current and Future Health Cost Concerns

Prioritizing preventative care, taking advantage of an HSA, participating in employer physical wellness programs, and working with a financial adviser are simple actions employees can take to help lessen the burden of health care costs before and in retirement, according to new survey results from the Nationwide Retirement Institute.

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Maximizing Your HSA

A Super Medical Savings Account for Super Savers

Wise financial folks, especially those we could call “super savers,” consider the HSA a powerful tax-advantaged savings tool, up there with things like Roth IRAs. I hadn’t previously understood why, but now I know. Here’s what I learned.

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HSAs Have More to Offer Than You Think

HSAs are often confused with FSAs but they are not the same at all. With an FSA, any money not spent in the year it is funded is forfeited. The money in an HSA, and anything it earns, remains until it is used. With these plans, a person can “self-insure” part of their health care costs in exchange for lower premiums.

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What’s the Best Medical Savings Account for You?

Each year consumers face the difficult task of making an irrevocable choice about their health care plan without really knowing what the upcoming year has in store for their family’s health. Often, this comes down to whether an HSA or FSA is the best savings option for you. Your objective should be to get the coverage you need for the lowest out-of-pocket cost.

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Consumer-Driven Health Care

What Can the National Weather Service Teach Us About Disseminating Health Care Price Information?

State governments and health plans are playing two roles: data creation and data dissemination. It’s time to split these roles. Consider the National Weather Service which gathers huge amounts of weather data, provides real-time analytics (such as forecasts), and displays those data on its website. But relatively few Americans use it. Instead, most get their weather forecasts from third-parties.

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Groupon for Medical Scans? Discounted Care Can Have Hidden Costs

The concept of patients using Groupons to get discounted medical care elicits the typical stages of Twitter grief. But, ultimately, the use of Groupon and other pricing tools is symptomatic of a health care market where patients desperately want a deal — or at least tools that better nail down their costs before they get care.

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That Beloved Hospital? It’s Driving Up Health Care Costs

Data shows that hospitals are by far the biggest cost in our $3.5 trillion health care system, where spending is growing faster than gross domestic product, inflation and wage growth. Spending on hospitals represents 44 percent of personal expenses for the privately insured.

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Are Hospitals Intentionally Hiding Prices?

It would be easy to assume that hospitals deliberately complicate pricing in order to grossly inflate the cost of care. The reality is that for hospitals, communicating with patients about payment is a relatively new development. In recent years, however, the cost burden has significantly shifted to patients.

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The Hospital Treated These Patients. Then It Sued Them.

An examination of court records by The New York Times found almost 3,000 lawsuits filed by Carlsbad Medical Center against patients over medical debt since 2015, more than 500 of them through August of this year alone. Carlsbad is not the only hospital to have filed reams of lawsuits over unpaid bills.

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Independent Labs May Be Less Expensive, but Are They the Best Option for You?

It may be cheaper to have routine outpatient medical and imaging tests done at an independent lab. But whether that is the best option depends on several factors, including convenience, your insurance plan and whether specialty follow-up care is needed.

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High Medical Costs Have Driven These People to Put Their Health at Risk

To save on health care, a third of people aged 25 to 45 avoided seeing a medical professional, according to data from the Nationwide Retirement Institute. Close to 3 in 10 of the participants said they considered not seeking care to avoid their high deductibles, while more than 20% said they stretched their prescription drugs by taking less than the recommended dosage.

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Scammers Target Genetic Testing as Medical & Tax Benefits Expand

Genetic testing kits are all the rage these days - and recent tax news may make it even more affordable. Taxpayers may now get a tax break for some testing, piquing interest for some taxpayers. Unfortunately, the increased popularity also makes genetic testing kits ripe for scammers.

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Bryan CaplanComment