October 28 2010
Do You Have a Prescription for that Advil?
IWF has over the years asked women to think about Health Savings Accounts. "Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) would make coverage more affordable and responsive to women's needs," we suggested in a 2004 white paper. The paper explored the how such accounts could make health care portable and bring more benefits to women.
That was then. Now, an editorial in the Washington Examiner makes it clear that the administration's health care reform takes aim at HSAs and Flexible Spending Accounts:
Employees who use tax-free Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses will soon have to reconsider their decision to do so. Starting Jan. 1, Obamacare forbids use of an FSA or HSA to purchase over-the-counter medicines without a doctor's prescription. For HSA users, this is an inconvenience and an added expense, but it's much worse if you have an FSA. Unlike HSAs, you lose all the leftover cash in your FSA unless you spend it by year's end. What's more, any forfeited funds are also taxed, even though you didn't spend them and can't get them back. Further, already heavily scheduled doctors will have to accommodate yet more appointments and phone calls, thus reducing the time available for diagnosis and treatment of all patients.
This is a low blow. In ramming a health bill through Congress, with members more inclined to listen to their leaders in Congress instead of their true employers (us), there was insufficient attention paid to incremental and innovative changes to health care that, while not packing an ideological wallop, would actually make health care better. (And don't miss Julie Gunlock's grim diagnosis of the health care situation below.)