Sunday July 5, 2015

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Consumer-Driven Health News

How Married Couples Can Pay for Long-Term-Care Insurance With HSA Funds

I read your column about paying long-term-care premiums with HSA money. But I wonder how it works for a married couple when one spouse has an HSA and the other does not. Can the HSA money be used tax-free to pay both spouses’ premiums? Yes, you can still use money tax-free from the HSA for both spouses’ eligible long-term-care premiums and other medical expenses.

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HSA vs. FSA: Which Is Right for You?

Using tax-favored accounts to pay for vital expenses is a great way to save money by cutting your tax bill. With so many different accounts available, though, it can be hard to keep all of your choices straight. Let's take a closer look at the HSA vs. FSA debate with an eye toward helping figure out which choice is better for you.

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Deductible Debate: Experts Urge New Plan Designs to Promote Effective Care

Some health policy experts and lawmakers see high-deductible health plans as a key to reducing U.S. healthcare costs through a consumer-driven model. But some experts argue that high-deductible plans are blunt and potentially dangerous instruments as currently designed. As an alternative, some employers, insurers and observers are championing value-based insurance design as a way to refine the rough edges of high-deductible options.

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When Silver Is Worth More Than Gold or Platinum

For health insurance buyers with incomes under 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), Silver plans – and only Silver plans – come with Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies that reduce deductibles, copays, and maximum out-of-pocket costs. Fully 85 percent of Silver plan buyers in 2015 accessed CSR. Of those, about 80 percent have incomes under 200 percent FPL and so get “strong” CSR, raising the actuarial value of their plans to 87 percent or 94 percent.

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Jury Still Out on Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Large employers are finding consumer-driven health plans particularly attractive and have shifted their entire workforce into these plans. As a result, more patients will be encouraged to become cost-savvy consumers who avoid unnecessary procedures and demand the most cost-effective treatments. But an important, unanswered question remains: How do patients enrolled in CDHPs actually behave?

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