In renewed efforts, the House of Ways & Means subcommittee listened to advocates in favor of expanding the HSA program as a proposed solution to lower costs and increase access to how these accounts are used. The goal is to discuss how people can gain access to affordable options for coverage while still maintaining the correct structural incentives to contain the cost curve and stabilize premiums.
Chairman Roskam stated that more than 21.8 million Americans currently have a consumer directed health plan (CDHP). The most common CDHP design is a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) paired with an HSA, “offered by 80% of employers with any type of consumer-driven health plan,” HSA consultant Roy Ramthun testified before the subcommittee.
3 initiatives for expanding and strengthening the HSA program was given by Matt Eyles, the new president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
- Allow HSA spending rules to be more flexible and responsive
Advocates petition for the right of HSA holders to buy over the counter drugs and pay for dental and vision insurance with their funds.
- Expand HSA Coverage To More Individuals
Expand HSA options in the individual marketplace for people who are self-employed, or do not have employer-sponsored coverage, and those who do not qualify for an ACA public exchange premium subsidy.
- Expand on the HSA plan design
Eyles said that congress would make sure that consumers in the individual major medical market, including the Affordable Care Act public exchange market, can buy high-deductible policies that are compatible with the HSA program requirements.
There is bipartisan support for expanding the HSA program. Most republicans propose the expansion of the program to fill in the gaps left by the ACA. A fair number of democrats also support the HSA program as well.
Opposing argument made by Sherry Glied, dean of New York University public service graduate school, says that individuals with HDHP encounter more difficulty paying for medical claims than those with traditional health plans. Furthermore, she argues that there is little to no evidence that HSAs help increase access to care or expand efficiency on the healthcare system now.
Glied said, “For lower middle-income households in high-deductible plans, whether you have an HSA or not has absolutely no effect on whether you can afford your medical bills.”
Additionally, individuals who are extremely sick, make up the majority of the health care spending. These individuals are not afforded health plans that offer good cost or providers for the most part.