Healthy? Prepare to Foot Your Entire Health Care Bill
If insurance is based on lifestyle and risk factors, wouldn’t a family in impeccable health warrant some type of lower costs? Not under Obamacare, which is why Debbie was shocked when her family’s healthcare premiums jumped to more than $900 a month.
“We are a family of four, including two teenage girls. We do not have any health issues. None of us smoke or drink alcohol, and we take no prescriptions on a regular basis, only the occasional antibiotic for strep throat or something similar,” explained the Indiana mom.
“Last spring our insurance went up almost $300 per month. We now pay over $900 per month for a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with aHealth Savings Account (HSA). The $900 plus is only what we pay for the HDHP. It does not include what we put in the HSA,”she said.“We have a $7,000 deductible. We never even hit $1,000.”
The added strain to their budget has caused Debbie and her family to make some adjustments.“We’ve just had to make little cuts – less money for gas, less money for groceries, less money to do things with our children that we would like to do,” stated Debbie.
Thankful that her family has been blessed to still make ends meet, she did point out that she had to increase her hours. “I work part-time as a private caregiver. I’ve started working more hours.”
In the past, Debbie and her husbandwere able to weather the premium increases as her husband’s raise would off set the slight increases; however, that was not the case last year.Concerned about what this year will bring, Debbie commented, “We really don’t know what to expect.”
“My biggest concern is that they are going to take the HSA away from us or they are going to make it where it is no longer tax-free. If we lose the tax benefits of the HSA, I can’t even imagine how that is going to affect us. That’s thousands of dollars more we are going to have to pay in taxes, and we simply don’t have that money.”
Debbie’s fears are not unfounded. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there was great concern of how the new law would affect Health Savings Accounts (HSA). Some policy wonks wondered if the high-deductible health plans, modeled after the HSA guidelinesset forth inthe 2003 law, would comply with the60% actuarial equivalency threshold. As Merrill Matthews of Fobres put it, “Health Savings Accounts will survive Obamacare – at least for now.”
However, John Goodman –a Research Fellow at The Independent Institutedubbed the “Father of Health Savings Accounts”  –still voices concern about the plan’s fate.
“The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to review health plan benefits on an annual basis and determine the “essential” benefits that should be included in all health plans. If the secretary determines that all plans must have a benefit that violates the regulations for HSA-eligibility, HSAs could essentially be outlawed by the stroke of a (regulatory) pen.Other restrictions could make HSA plans impractical.”
Even if her HSA is not outlawed out by the Administration’s regulatory pen, it still may not be safe.The woman who handles the insurance at her husband’s company has repeatedly said, “Well, we will all probably be on Obamacare next year.”
A healthy family who has to pay higher premiums with the threat of losing their plan – Debbie noted, “It’s obvious that it [the law] was not thoroughly researched.”
- 1- Matthews, Merrill. Health Savings Accounts Will Survive ObamaCare — At Least For Now. Forbes.com 27 March 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2013/03/27/health-savings-accounts-will-survive-obamacare-at-least-for-now/
- 2- Goodman, John C. PhD. How Will Obamacare Affect Health Savings Accounts? PsychologyToday.com 13 February 2013. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/curing-the-healthcare-crisis/201302/how-will-obamacare-affect-health-savings-accounts-0