Moving forward after the collapse of healthcare reform
“It’s time to move on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill last week came up just one vote short of passage. For now, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and Republicans and Democrats called for bipartisan debate aimed at updating that law shortly after the vote.
Until that occurs, or Congress manages to pass revised GOP healthcare reform, employers will need to remain focused on providing ACA-compliant health benefits to their workforce. Benefits advisers will likewise continue to keep compliance requirements top-of-mind when working with organizations to structure suitable benefits packages.
What about plan participants? They remain rightfully concerned about both immediate and long-term healthcare costs.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of participants In a recent ConnectYourCare study said their biggest retirement concern was paying for healthcare costs rather than other expenses like housing, vehicle payments and travel.
Health savings accounts continue to be the most effective tool for empowering end users to save for these healthcare expenses. This is why expansion of HSAs was a common element present in all Republican proposals — from the original American Health Care Act to the most recent Health Care Freedom Act and everything in between.
A small step forward
Some of the proposed policy changes that would have enhanced HSAs included empowering users to pay for insurance premiums with tax-free distributions; increasing the annual contribution limit; allowing catch-up contributions to the same account by spouses; and defining over-the-counter medications as eligible expenses.
While finding room on the agenda would be difficult, nothing precludes Congressional leaders from revising the rules governing HSAs as a small step forward in larger healthcare reform.
Also see: “Despite growth, HSAs have ‘room for improvement.’”
This would put more focus on the participants, providing them with greater control of their healthcare spending and savings.
Americans deserve a healthcare system that is sustainable and driven by consumer choice. I remain confident that is the direction of the future.
For now, employers and brokers must continue to help employees make the most of HSAs as they exist today through education around the capabilities of these accounts and the savings opportunities they present.