Sunday February 14, 2016

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Consumer-Driven Health News



Supplemental Saving in an HSA for Retiree Medical Expenses

The HSA is unique in the landscape of tax-preferenced investment acounts, as it is the only type that enjoys both the benefit of tax-deductible contributions and tax-free distributions (for medical expenses). In fact, the health savings account tax treatment is so good that it can even be superior to funding a 401(k) plan with a small match (for those who haven’t already started a health savings account for retirement).

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How to Manage a High-Deductible Health Plan

For many Americans, the days of paying a $10 or $20 copay for a doctor visit and leaving the medical bills to their insurance companies are long gone. Instead, many are paying a larger share of their medical bills, often through deductibles that leave people to pay the full cost of care until they hit a certain dollar limit. And that means not just higher potential costs, but more to understand – from figuring out how much care costs to handling bills that aren’t always clear. What can people do to better manage their high-deductible plans? Here are some tips from experts.

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Private Exchange Enrollment Tied to Employer-Sponsored Plans Jumps 35 Percent

Thirty-five percent more people than last year have enrolled for their employer-sponsored healthcare benefits on private online marketplaces, according to a new report from Accenture. It estimates that 8 million people enrolled, up from about 6 million in 2015. However, that growth is lower than expected.

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What's Behind the Out-of-Pocket Cost Problem

The No. 1 driver of bill payment problems today is cost-sharing in high-deductible plans, which constitute about 25 percent of the privately insured, up from just 8 percent in 2009, according to a Kaiser survey. The ACA's exchange plans are contributing to the anxiety. Most bronze and silver plans that people bought for their low monthly premiums included high deductibles. Many people discovered that only when they accessed healthcare for the first time as an insured patient.

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New Federal Standards for Marketplace Plans May Reduce Out-of-Pocket Spending

Some consumers who buy coverage on the health insurance marketplaces in 2017 could see their out-of-pocket costs drop significantly under a federal proposal to create standardized plans, a recent analysis found. The government wants to create six plan options at the bronze, silver and gold metal levels, each with standard deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket spending limits and copayments or coinsurance for various services. In addition, primary care and specialist doctor visits and prescription drugs would not be subject to the deductible in the standard silver- and gold-level plans.

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