Imagine being able to choose how we spend our healthcare dollars, without a health insurance company, or the government, telling us how to do it. We choose to buy an over-the-counter medication that performs just as well as a high-priced drug that requires a prescription. We save money. We pay only for what our family needs, and we don’t shift the costs to others.
Actually, we don’t have to imagine it. Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), tax-exempt trust accounts that are offered by some employers as an alternative to traditional health insurance plans, have been around since 2004. With an HSA option, employees are generally offered a lower insurance premium if they agree to place money into a special account from which they pay for most of their lower-cost, basic healthcare. A “catastrophic,” high deductible insurance plan is in place for larger medical bills due to hospitalizations, surgeries, or other higher cost specialized treatments.
Last week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) announced that more than 11.4 million Americans are now covered by HSA-eligible insurance plans, a more than 14% increase since last year. Increasingly popular among small businesses and families, HSA’s put patients in control of their basic health care dollars and- surprise- when people directly control their health care costs, they choose more wisely and costs come down.
Great idea, isn’t it? More personal control of healthcare dollars, more personal control of basic healthcare decision-making, lower healthcare costs because we are shopping around for the best value. So, of course, Obamacare intends to gradually eradicate HSA’s.
The overwhelming government regulation that exists in Obamacare will ultimately obliterate the increasingly popular HSA. Beginning January 1st, for example, consumers with HSA’s are now required to obtain a doctor’s note to pay for drugs like Tylenol, and about 15,000 other over-the-counter drugs, using HSA funds. Yes, you now have to get a prescription for Tylenol if you have an HSA.
In addition, new Obamacare rules prohibit the use of flexible savings or health reimbursement debit cards to actually purchase the over-the-counter drugs because the IRS, which is getting in gear to fully enforce Obamacare, says it has no way of knowing whether the Tylenol was prescribed by a doctor. And just to show you how tough they are, the IRS says funds removed from HSA’s for medical expenses purchased without a doctor’s prescription will not only be included as taxable income, but will also incur an additional hand-slapping tax of 20 percent. Darn conniving American consumers! Always trying to be in charge of their healthcare at the most economical cost. Don’t fret: Obamacare will fix that.
If that were not enough, beginning January 1, 2013, Obamacare will place a limit of $2500 on the pre-tax contributions to Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA’s). Of course, the key phrase here is “pre-tax dollars.” What does Obamacare need to become the biggest, blood-sucking entitlement program this nation has ever seen? Taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Capping the pre-tax contributions of HSA’s will ensure that tax dollars, anticipated to amount to about $13 billion, can be utilized to pay for government-provided health care services to be offered between 2013 and 2019. As with our Medicare and Social Security entitlements, Obamacare is in the mode of paying now for others to use later, redistribution of wealth in all its glory.
Of course, President Obama could not have passed Obamacare without the support of big drug companies, who don’t want us buying the cheap, over-the-counter drugs, and those people who dressed up in white coats for the photo-op with the president just before the bill was passed- you know, the American Medical Association (AMA). Remember how supportive the AMA was of Obamacare? Well, it seems that since that photo-op, the AMA has lost about 12,000 member physicians (and the dues they pay) to its organization. The organization now states that they have a problem not only with the individual mandate in the law, but also with how the law will cut costs in Medicare through the latest healthcare concept-du jour, the Accountable Care Organization (ACO).
ACO’s will require providers to offer quality care for lower fees in order to be eligible for bonus payments. Not unlike the “managed care” concept of the health insurance industry, ACO‘s will essentially be rationing patient healthcare. Doctors will be incentivized for providing the minimum of care, that still meets a “quality” standard. And, of course, with Medicare, we are always dealing with the elderly in the population, so will the minimum standard of care be different for someone who is 80, versus someone who is 40? You know the answer to that one.
It is always important to remember that while liberal Democrats would have us believe that Republicans are tied to those nasty insurance companies that deny us care, Obamacare is basically a health insurance company’s “managed care” system on steroids.
The best thing that has happened to healthcare is Health Savings Accounts. We need more of them, more often so that we can be in charge of our personal basic healthcare while we save money shopping for the best deal. Are we surprised that Obamacare will ultimately destroy them? All the more reason for ensuring that, even if the Supreme Court declares Obamacare unconstitutional, we need Congress, the body representing the American people, to repeal it, and a president to sign the repeal.