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Average insurance deductibles keep rising

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Monday, August 13, 2018

The average insurance deductible keeps going up, as does the number of people covered by high-deductible plans. And only about half of those people get help from their employers to save up for potential medical bills, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

The study found that in 2016, 78.0 percent of HDHP enrollees in the smallest firms (those with fewer than 25 employees) lacked an employer-funded account, compared to 35.2 percent in the largest firms (those with 1,000 or more employees). Overall, HDHP enrollees in the largest firms had significant advantages relative to workers in smaller firms along all of the dimensions examined.

Read More. (Full report is available only by subscription)

Tags:  deductibles  HDHP  tax-advantaged account 

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Enrollment in HDHPs on the rise; traditional plan enrollment falls

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Monday, August 13, 2018

From BenefitsPro:

Workers with access to health care coverage through their employer are increasingly enrolling in high-deductible health plans, both with and without health savings accounts, as enrollment in traditional health plans has fallen.

So says a report from the Centers for Disease Control, based on data from the National Health Interview Survey. The report finds that, for adults aged 18–64 with employment-based coverage, HDHPs with HSAs saw a boost in enrollment from 4.2 percent to 18.9 percent from 2007 through 2017, while over the same period, HDHPs that lacked HSAs rose from 10.6 percent to 24.5 percent.

Read more. (Registration Required)

 Download a copy of the report here.

Tags:  HDHP  HSAa 

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Hearing on Lowering Costs and Expanding Access to Health Care through Consumer-Directed Health Plans

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hearing Information
Wednesday, June 6, 2018, at 11:00 AM in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building.

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/event/hearing-on-lowering-costs-and-expanding-access-to-health-care-through-consumer-directed-health-plans/

Tags:  Hearing  House Ways and Means  Jody Dietel 

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Trump Administration Loosens Restrictions On Short-Term Health Plans

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Friday, August 3, 2018
FROM KAISER HEALTH NEWS:

 

Insurers will again be able to sell short-term health insurance good for up to 12 months under final rules released Wednesday by the Trump administration.

This action overturns an Obama administration directive that limited such plans to 90 days. It also adds a new twist: If they wish, insurers can make the short-term plans renewable for up to three years.

Short-term plans are less expensive because, unlike their ACA counterparts, which cannot bar people with preexisting health conditions, insurers selling these policies can be choosy — rejecting people with illnesses or limiting their coverage.

Short-term plans can also set annual and lifetime caps on benefits, and cover few prescription drugs.

Most exclude benefits for maternity care, preventive care, mental health services or substance abuse treatment.

Read more.

Tags:  ACA  Short-term Health Plans 

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Welcome, Generation Z: Here’s Your Benefits Package

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Friday, July 20, 2018
From SHRM:

Joanne Sammer writing for SHRM states that as members of Generation Z, those born after 1995,  graduate from college, employers will need to provide the support, freedom and flexibility these younger workers seek.

One example of how benefits programs are changing to accommodate the needs of younger workers is the Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA). Sammer explains that LSAs LSAs) allow employers to make taxable contributions on employees' behalf. Employees can use these funds on products and services that the employer makes available, such as fitness classes, pet insurance or charitable giving.

You choose the yearly sum (let’s say, $1,500), and your employees choose what they want to put it towards (a gym membership and a new pair of running shoes, perhaps?). Then, you only pay for the amount they use. We repeat: You only pay for what they’ve used. This one small detail makes a huge difference at the end-of-year review. Not only does it help business owners eliminate those unpleasant year-end surprises, many end up owing less than anticipated.

Read more.

 

Tags:  Generation Z  Lifestyle Spending Accounts 

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Kelly helps steer two of his bipartisan health care bills through House committee

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 18, 2018
From The Ripon Advance

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, last week participated in two days of committee markup hearings on 11 health care bills and helped pass two pieces of bipartisan legislation he introduced.

Among the 11 bills passed by the committee on July 11-12 was the Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act of 2018, H.R. 6305, which Rep. Kelly introduced on July 3 to expand Americans’ access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the Employer Relief Act of 2018, H.R. 4616, for which the congressman was the sole original cosponsor upon its introduction in December 2017 by U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

“H.R. 6305 gives employers more flexibility to offer quality health care in the setting best for them, like on-site or retail clinics,” said Rep. Kelly in a July 13 statement. “Employers around our country are offering innovative ways to deliver health care to their associates, and this provision makes sure that individuals with HSAs can utilize these same services.”

Additionally, he pointed out, H.R. 6305 would fix the HSA spouse penalty by allowing individuals to make HSA contributions if a spouse has a Flexible Spending Account, but preventing double-dipping in tax benefits. The bill also would streamline the conversion of other tax-preferred accounts to HSAs, thereby making it easier for Americans to save money for health care services.

“Ultimately, this bill modernizes health care delivery and gives employers the freedom to innovate and improve their employees’ health insurance,” Rep. Kelly said. “We are trying to improve health care for all Americans. This means giving consumers a choice in their health care. This means incentivizing wellness and exercise, not sickness. This means giving employers the freedom to design insurance products that work best for their associates.”

In thanking U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the original cosponsor of H.R. 6305, Congressman Kelly called the issue “extremely important for the 175 million people who get their health insurance from their employer,” and urged fast action by congressional members toward making H.R. 6305 a federal law.

Nearly 30 conservative leaders agree. In a July 11 open letter sent to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, the leaders wrote in support of the committee’s legislative efforts to expand HSAs, including Rep. Kelly’s bill.

“Since they were created almost 15 years ago, HSAs have proven successful in promoting healthcare choice, lowering taxes and lowering healthcare costs. Expanding HSAs will build on this success,” according to the letter, which was signed by the leaders of groups including Americans for Tax Reform, the HSA Coalition, Americans for Prosperity, the Campaign for Liberty, the 60 Plus Association, the Goldwater Institute, Health Freedom Hub, the National Taxpayers Union, Hispanic Leadership Fund, and the Independent Women’s Forum, among others.

Another Kelly bill passes
The House Ways and Means Committee also approved H.R. 4616, which would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to provide for a temporary moratorium on the employer mandate and to provide for a delay in the implementation of the excise tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored health coverage, according to the congressional record.

Rep. Kelly noted that the employer mandate on small businesses having more than 50 employees costs them millions of dollars in unnecessary administrative compliance and reporting.

If enacted, H.R. 4616 would provide three years of retroactive relief and one year of prospective relief from the employer mandate provision within Obamacare, paired with a one-year extended delay of the law’s so-called Cadillac Tax on high-value health care plans.

“Mr. Nunes and I introduced this bill to give relief to Americans and employers struggling under Obamacare,” said Rep. Kelly during the Ways and Means Committee markup on H.R. 4616, which would delay the Cadillac Tax for one additional year, until 2023.

“We have discussed the Cadillac Tax at length in this committee and how it is a misguided policy in Obamacare,” said the congressman, adding that H.R. 4616 “is good progress, but we cannot lose sight of the goal: the full repeal of the Cadillac Tax.”

Ending the tax, which Rep. Kelly said “continues to hang over the head of the 175 million Americans who receive health insurance through their employer,” is actually an issue that he thinks unites House Republicans and Democrats, as evidenced by support for the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017, H.R. 173, which Rep. Kelly introduced on Jan. 3, 2017.

H.R. 173 currently has 297 co-sponsors, giving the measure a veto-proof majority, according to his office. The bipartisan H.R. 173, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), is under consideration by the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

Rep. Kelly also said during the markup hearing that H.R. 4616 would provide relief to “employers crushed under the employer mandate” by ending “another misguided policy in Obamacare that the Obama administration never enforced.”

“Let’s not lose sight of repealing all of Obamacare’s misguided taxes on hard-working Americans,” the congressman reminded his colleagues.

Tags:  House Ways and Means  HSA  Mike Kelly 

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Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Health Bills

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. –House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee markup of bills from the Subcommittee on Health aimed at expanding consumer-directed health care and lowering premiums.

CLICK HEREto watch the markup.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, today’s markup is all about giving Americans more affordable health care choices.

"Americansshould have the ability to save and spend their health care dollars the way they want and need.

"Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many families, thanks in part to flawed Obamacare policies and regulations.

"I’ve heard from countless individuals across my community in Texas who have been stuck with dwindling options and rising costs.

"That’s why today’s Ways and Means Committee markup is aimed at increasing access and lowering costs for Americans.

"We will advance policies that expand Health Savings Accounts and also allow for individuals to have an off-ramp from Obamacare's rising premiums by allowing more choice and financial assistance both on and off government-sponsored exchanges.

"While these policies do not reverse the failures of Obamacare, they focus on modernizing and expanding access to consumer-directed plans tied to Health Savings Accounts.

"These reforms will preserve the structural integrity of the consumer-directed approach, allowing them to continue offering lower premiums and bending the cost curve.

"Health Savings Accounts are an important tool for families to set aside money that’s tax-free to pay for needed health care expenses.

"This helps reduce the burden of high health care costs and enables families to plan ahead for events like the birth of a child.

"It’s no wonder why so many families think HSAs are so great.They give choice and lower costs.

"That’s what today is all about – choice.Americans should have a voice when it comes to their health care.That’s why we continue to emphasize competition, innovation, and individual choice. The 11 bills before us today all look to do just that.

"A good example of how we are promoting competition and innovation isH.R. 6301 – thePromoting High-ValueHealthCare Through Flexibility for High-Deductible Health Plans Act of 2018.

"This bipartisan bill, which is sponsored by Health Subcommittee Chairman Roskam and Congressman Thompson, provides health plans with flexibility to offer smart, high-value health benefits without losing eligibility to make contributions to an HSA. Examples of this includetele-healthand primary care visits.

"This bill will enable more plans to qualify for HSAs, helping millions of Americans save for their health care costs and promoting smarthealth caredecision-making.

"That’s just one of a number of innovative bills we will consider today.I want to thank all of our Members for their hard work on the bills before us today."

Tags:  CDH  House Ways and Means  Kevin Brady 

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Devenir Releases Viewpoints White Paper – Best Practices: HSA Investments & Menu Design

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Monday, July 2, 2018

Devenir has released a white paper Viewpoint exploring best practices for HSA investments & menu design.

In a press release, Devenir notes that widespread interest has put HSA investments, an important aspect of HSAs, in the spotlight. Several recent reports, publications and articles have featured HSA investing as a promising tool for improving health and wealth. While these reports have often made compelling points and offered insight, most have viewed HSAs through external lenses and failed to capture important nuances of the HSA market. HSAs differ from 401(k)s and other more traditional retirement accounts in a number of ways. By offering best-practice marketplace conventions, stakeholders can form more comprehensive and healthier assessments of the HSA investment landscape.

Highlights from the Viewpoint include:

  • Menu Design: Well-designed investment menus typically offer broad asset class coverage that provides for various HSA strategy objectives.
  • Investment Quality: Comparing performance and a holistic approach to evaluating cost.
  • Plan Design: Implementing menu changes in the HSA space & plan features in demand

“Since HSA investments have come into the spotlight, we felt it made sense to share some of the insights we’ve gathered over 14 years of experience in the HSA marketplace,” said Zach Haas, lead author of the white paper and investment analyst at Devenir.

The full version of the Viewpoint is available exclusively to Devenir’s clients

Click here to access the Executive Summary.

Tags:  Best Practices  Devenir  HSA 

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The Black Hole of Financial Planning: Health Care Costs

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

From InvestmentNews Retirement 2.0 Blog:

Mary Beth Franklin cites the annual health care survey from Nationwide Retirement Institute released Monday writing that "affluent older adults are worried about what health care costs, including long-term care expenses, could do to their carefully laid retirement plans. Yet only about half of those who work with a financial adviser have discussed their fears because they consider health care a personal matter, according to a new survey."

Franklin notes that the survey found that most future retirees are taking steps to save for health care costs in retirement, including building up their savings accounts (59%), investing (56%), increasing their 401(k) contributions (46%) and paying off credit card debt and loans (36%).

"But while nearly half of employed affluent adults have access to a health savings account (HSA) through their employer, only 30% contribute to the HSAs, and few fully leverage HSAs' triple tax break. Of those who do contribute to an HSA, only 10% maximize the accounts by using them as long-term savings vehicles. Unused HSA funds can be rolled over from year to year and can be used tax-free to pay for future health care costs in retirement, which in turn can reduce future income taxes and possibly reduce future Medicare premiums."

Franklin concludes that "advisers can help clients by creating personalized health care costs estimates, projecting savings needs for those costs and recommending funding sources such as HSAs, insurance, Social Security, and Medicare. Advisers should also suggest that clients discuss potential health care needs and costs with family members to create a truly holistic retirement plan."

Read more.

Tags:  HSA  retirement 

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Fidelity Finds Little Knowledge About HSAs

Posted By Martin Trussell CFC, Friday, June 15, 2018

Lee Barney writes in PlanSponsor that Fidelity says that 25% of employees with access to an HSA are using one. When employers offer only an HSA-eligible health plan, 46% of workers add this savings benefit. 

Fidelity notes that the contribution limits for 2018 are $3,450 for individuals, $6,900 for a family, and $1,000 in catch-up contributions for those over age 55. However, last year, individuals contributed an average of $1,800 and family account owners, $3,800

Nearly 40% of people are unaware that the money in an HSA can carry forward. Instead, they think if they don’t use it, they will lose it at the end of the year. Additionally, 46% of HSA account holders are unaware they can invest their contribution, and a mere 7.7% actually do invest the money.

 

Read more.

 

Tags:  Fidelity  HSA 

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