WASHINGTON, DC — Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, says he is confident that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed before year’s end because there is no alternative. Weber is “especially encouraged” by the House Freedom Caucus’ decision on Wednesday to support a new compromise repeal bill. And, he is hopeful that the full Senate will soon put the measure on its way to passage.
But, how hard will it be to replace it in a timely fashion with legislation that people want and need?
Weber says that the key to passage of an Obamacare replacement is likely to be an expansion of Health Savings accounts. The IRS describes an HSA as a tax-exempt trust or custodial account you set up with a qualified HSA trustee to pay or reimburse certain medical expenses you incur. if you greatly expand Health Savings Accounts by allowing increased tax-free contributions and the use of HSA funds to pay health insurance premiums, it can be extremely easy.
“We have been working hard to convince lawmakers in Washington that an expanded HSA makes good sense. For one thing, there’d be less confusion among users. They’d have individual agents to help them roll over their insurance plans into their HSAs in a seamless manner. Under Obamacare most people have co-pays and very high deductibles for medical services in addition to high premiums. Under our proposal, premiums would be paid through an individual’s tax free HSA. In addition, it would provide for visits to local doctor with no additional costs and all deductibles would be paid with pre-tax dollars out of the savings portion of the HSA,” he explained.
Weber said that low-income individuals and families would be covered under the HSA utilizing government subsidies. The difference between their coverage under Obamacare and their coverage under the HSA is that they would not have any copays and they would have funds they can use for deductibles.
The AMAC chief says there is an urgent need for a universal replacement for the Affordable Care Act. He notes that there is little disagreement that Obamacare is crumbling under its own weight. And, he adds, ACA users across the country have few choices in selecting suitable insurance. The consulting firm, Avalere, has concluded that in 91% of exchange market rating regions in the U.S. those seeking insurance have only one or two plans to choose from.
“Insurance companies have been pulling out of Obamacare exchanges at an alarming rate. It would be an absolute disaster if the few companies who are now in the insurance exchanges decided to get out. Our HSA would be at the ready to provide coverage for those individuals and families who would be left holding the bag, including those who get government support. The government support would simply go into their HSA accounts.”
As for catastrophic coverage, under Obamacare there is a $6,000.00 deductible that must be paid out of pocket. “The savings feature in our HSA would be used to pay such deductibles. Users would put in roughly $150.00 or more each month in order to accumulate funds in their accounts. At that rate, you would have about $6,000.00 saved in about three years.”
What happens if you have only $1,000 in your account and you need $6,000? The American Bankers Association says banks would be willing to write short-term loans, payments for which would be made each month automatically with a portion of pre-tax HSA deposits, according to Weber.
“As for those who can’t afford to pay into an HSA, our proposal calls for the establishment of what we call Pro Bono Care. We conducted a survey and found that some 350,000 doctors and nurse practitioners would be willing to participate in the Pro Bono Care program, providing services for free to those in need. If each one took 20 patients, that’s 7 million needy people who would be covered.”
Weber says that AMAC is gradually convincing more and more lawmakers and federal healthcare officials that its HSA proposal makes sense. “It is fast, fair and easy to implement. It provides a maximum amount of choice for users. And, it provides universal coverage. The healthcare debate on Capitol Hill ihas gotten contentious and sometimes raucous. We believe that our HSA plan is an elegant solution that needs serious consideration.”