Health & Wellness / Politics

Advocates: Executive Order Will Lower Costs for Chronically Ill Patients

TRump Executive Order ill patientsBy Bethany Blankley| The Center Square

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump makes it easier for patients with chronic illnesses and high deductibles to receive healthcare coverage.

Executive Order 13877 (Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare To Put Patients First) issued guidance to the Treasury Department and IRS. It would allow plans with pre-tax health savings accounts (HSAs) to cover treatments for diseases like diabetes and asthma, and allow individuals to schedule vision screenings or purchase medication.

“This notice expands the list of preventive care benefits permitted to be provided by a high deductible health plan (HDHP) under section 223(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) without a deductible, or with a deductible below the applicable minimum deductible (self-only or family) for an HDHP,” the order states.

Currently, individuals with high deductible plans with HSAs are required to pay their deductible before their insurance covers treatment for chronic illnesses. The new rule changes this, allowing access to coverage for preventive services, without having to meet their deductibles.

In prior guidance, the notice states the Treasury Department and IRS ruled that “preventive care generally does not include any service or benefit intended to treat an existing illness, injury, or condition.” However, officials at both agencies “are aware that the cost barriers for care have resulted in some individuals who are diagnosed with certain chronic conditions failing to seek or utilize effective and necessary care that would prevent exacerbation of the chronic condition.”

Not having access to preventative care and failure to address these chronic conditions has resulted in worse conditions including, “amputation, blindness, heart attacks, and strokes that require considerably more extensive medical intervention,” it states.

“Millions of Americans suffer with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease,” Josh Archambault, senior fellow at Foundation for Government Accountability, told The Center Square. “The new rule makes treating chronic conditions easier and more affordable, which helps prevent these conditions from spiraling out of control, leading to disastrous consequences for patients.”

Shobin Uralil, co-founder and COO of Lively Inc., the fastest growing HSA provider, says the move will “drive better and more clear healthcare options for Americans. Expanding the ability for patients to choose HDHPs that can be used alongside an HSA, and that cover low-cost preventive care, before the deductible, is a crucial way to help individuals seek and access the care they need in order to properly treat chronic conditions.”

Uralil told The Center Square, “HSA expansion will increase the opportunity for more Americans to save tax-free money for healthcare expenses. The proposed changes would also increase HSA-eligible expenses so more healthcare costs can be purchased 100 percent tax-free. This is a direct way to reduce rising consumer health costs for most Americans.”

The notice went into effect July 17, 2019.

Reprinted with permission from - The Center Square - by Bethany Blankley

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