As the debate over Medicare for All rages on the campaign trail, one Ohio representative has launched a plan to expand a way for people to invest in their own future healthcare costs.
Congressman Warren Davidson, a Republican representing Ohio’s 8th district between Dayton and the Indiana border, introduced The Patient Fairness Act in January. The bill is co-sponsored by GOP representatives Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho of Florida.
The bill calls for expanding the amount of pre-tax money individuals or employers can add to healthcare savings accounts (HSAs). The money can later be used to cover qualifying medical expenses. An HSA reduces the amount of taxable income while earning interest and providing a safety net for future healthcare costs.
HSAs can be used to cover expenses like doctor visits, prescriptions, and even some over-the- counter medications. Currently, they are only available to people with high-deductible insurance plans, but Davidson’s proposal would open them up to everyone — even people who do not have health insurance at all. In that scenario, people could use the HSA to purchase insurance or cover medical expenses without insurance.
The Patient Fairness Act would also increase the amount that individuals and families can deposit into their HSAs. The limit is currently $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for families; the new law would increase those amounts to $8,000 for individuals and $16,000 for families.
The new law would also allow for HSAs to be bequeathed upon the holder’s death, which would allow families to establish health care trust funds to cover medical expenses.
In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Davidson said he hopes these changes will help reduce disparities in the U.S. healthcare system in a common-sense way that works for all Americans.
“The Patient Fairness Act levels the playing field between those who have employer-sponsored health insurance and those who don’t,” he wrote. “Expanding access to HSAs and requiring hospitals to publish costs is a workable solution that every member of Congress should support.”
According to GovTrack, no action has been taken on the Patient Fairness Act since Davidson introduced it to Congress on January 9. It’s unclear when discussion on the bill will move forward.
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