Recent legislation has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) that would allow employers to offer increased benefits to employees who have a Health Savings Account (HSA).
The proposed “Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act” would amend the law governing HSAs and is designed to improve access to healthcare for the roughly 20 million Americans who are currently enrolled in HSA-qualified high deductible health plans.
Current HSA regulations
When initially introduced in 2003, HSAs and the qualified medical plans associated with them were designed to help employers control costs and make employees become better consumers of healthcare. This was done by making first-dollar medical expenses the responsibility of the member (up to the deductible limit and with an exception for preventive care expenses) and therefore having less of a claims impact with the insurance carrier. The idea here was that the member could “shop” for the best price for their healthcare services and generate lower healthcare claims.
Future HSA Regulation
The new legislation, if passed, will expand the current HSA rules allowing qualified plans to cover more of the up-front costs. Key provisions of the bill provide the following reforms to current law:
- Allows HSA-qualified plans to offer pre-deductible coverage of health services at onsite employee clinics and retail health clinics;
- Permits HSA-qualified plans to offer pre-deductible coverage for services and medications that manage chronic conditions;
- Permits the use of HSA dollars toward wellness benefits and includes exercise and other expenses associated with physical activity;
- Clarifies that the employer can offer excepted benefits, like telehealth, and second opinion services to employees with HSA-qualified plans;
- Allows for spousal FSA benefits to be used simultaneously with HSA-qualified plans.
With the growing number of employees enrolling in HSA-qualified plans, this legislation is representative of healthcare laws changing to keep pace with shift toward these types of plans. This proactive approach may lead to additional changes that could have more significant impacts on how Americans utilize healthcare. Should this bill pass into law, employers who offer HSA-qualified plans will need to communicate the new benefits associated with their plans. It will be important for employees to understand how it impacts them and how they can best utilize the new features of the plan.