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  • Side Effects: Ball Drop Brings Bad News for Consumer-Driven Health Plan Users

    This year, as the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, Americans who depend on health savings accounts (HSAs) to make medical expenditures more affordable will experience first-hand yet another adverse side effect of Obamacare.  Starting in 2011, American families will no longer be able to use HSAs to purchase over-the-counter drugs, such as cough and allergy medicines.

    Americans using HSAs will not be the only ones affected.  The provisions of the new law will also change rules regarding the use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).

    One of the benefits of these savings accounts is that they allow users to put some of their earnings into a separate, tax-free account.  This money can then be used for out-of-pocket medical costs such as medical deductibles, eyeglasses, and prescriptions.  Since users can make medical purchases using pre-tax dollars, these accounts help cut out-of-pocket costs by about 20 percent, on average.

    But under Obamacare, the kinds of expenditures for which HSAs, FSAs, and HRAS can be used will be restricted.  Americans will no longer be able to use these accounts for over the counter drugs and other medical necessities without a prescription.  Throughout the course of the health care debate, President Obama assured the nation that the massive health care overhaul would bring down costs and help low- and middle-income Americans to better afford medical costs.  But restricting the use of FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs, will do the opposite.

    The Washington Post describes how this provision of the health care law will affect one working couple.  According to Kim Schmidl-Gagne,

    …she and her husband live paycheck to paycheck. At the end of a pay period when money’s tight and they need over-the-counter medicines, it’s been helpful to be able to tap the $500 they deposited in an FSA. ‘I don’t get how this [change] helps working families,’ she says.

    The Post goes on to point out that patients with chronic conditions will experience higher costs as well.  According to Roland Goertz, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, patients with allergies, heartburn, and those who use over-the-counter low-dose aspirin therapy for cardiovascular problems will be hit the hardest.  Moreover, he worries that the restrictions on these accounts will create more complexities for people who simply want to get items such as cough medicine.

    One consequence of this provision will be that, by requiring prescriptions for over the counter drugs, patients will make more unnecessary doctor’s visits, increasing costs across the board.

    Obamacare will not help cut costs for everyday Americans.  For this and its several other shortcomings, the law should be repealed and replaced with real reform based on patient-centered, market-driven ideas.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Side Effects: Ball Drop Brings Bad News for Consumer-Driven Health Plan Users

    1. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 12/31/10 NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter

    2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Heritage - Side Effects: Ball Drop Brings Bad News for Consumer-Driven Health Plan Users: This year, as the cloc... -- Topsy.com

    3. Bobbie says:

      Chronic illness in our household. Went today to pick up prescriptions and without warning, the co-pay increased $10.00 each! We already paid over $100.00 out of pocket.

      For only one reason, obamascare, it is now over $150.00 out of pocket. SURPRISE! My family of 5 (self included) are not rich!! That's not really the point. This disgusting overreach of the government will force my family and I on government dependency. Self sufficiency is being targeted by government! It's more punishment than benefit! We want independence! Please repeal! No compromise!

    4. kimkey says:

      I dont feel like i should be forced to have health insurance, I think everyone would like to have health insurance if they could afford it. If you need affordable health insurance search online "Wise Health Insurance" you dont want to be with out insurance any time.

    5. TiltedTalkDomagoy - says:

      This HSA idea for not covering OTC drugs doesn't sound too sharp. For many people, it will be cheaper to visit a doctor and get a prescription for allergy medicine or acid reflux medicine (two of the most widely used drugs in America) than it would be to buy OTC versions in stores.

      This will only bend the cost curve up: Many people I know have zero co-pays or near-zero ($5 or $10). So, if faced with paying $20-$30 for OTC medicine, they will choose zero or $5 or $10. But the cost to the system is the prescription drug (which could be hundreds of dollars per 30-day supply) and the money for the doctor's time. If only politicians would think before acting.

      Plus, doctors will be wasting their time with these trivial appointments instead of dealing with people who actually need care.

    6. Daver, Ft. Worth, Tx says:

      As much as it binds my britches to see the gov't effectively increasing taxes by taking away one of the few loopholes lower income people have–what really grinds my grits is when I have to watch and hear the gov't propagandizing that the health care law is making things better!

      Everytime I see Sherriff Taylor lying through his teeth–I die a little with him. Everytime I hear the radio spouting the same carp about Medicaire improvements–even though I know $500B was stripped out of their budgets, I want to smash the device emitting the noise.

      This whole legislation pains me–why in addition, do I have to know that my tax dollars are being wasted to continue to lie to me about it?

      Have I mentioned lately that I was never ashamed of my government untill January of 2009?

      Repeal;and defund Healthcare.

      Defund the Energy Department–(original goal was to make us energy independent–now 16,000 beauracrats and we are more dependent than ever!)

      Defund the FCC and EPA by 50% that way maybe they will focus on oil spills and public decency over the airwaves–not over reach into everything else.

      Defund NPR–we have a million private choices already.

      Defund the ninth Circuit court–when they can again be trusted to enforce the constitution–they can be re-assembled.

    7. RennyG MD says:

      Now that it seems we have some control over the congress, how do we handle the executive and judicial branches that I feel are infested???

    8. Selma Larson says:

      The Obamacare law must be REPEALED and NOT replaced. Did you see what Congress allowed OPM to do to the longterm care insurance that federal employees pay the premiums on THEMSELVES??? What are they thinking?

    9. Pingback: AntiObamaBlog.com » Ball Drop Brings Bad News for Consumer-Driven Health Plan Users

    10. Jan Bussler Maryland says:

      I am a registered nurse who has worked in a hospital for over 30 years, when I "retire" I won't have health insurance. COBRA will cost me $600.00/month. For the past 28 years I have worked in Labor and Delivery in Washington DC. I reqeatedly see young girls who have never paid a penny in taxes receive Medicaid, housing assistance, food assistance, TANF checks, etc. Medicaid covers 100% of pregnancy care, child care includidng braces, ambulance rides for trivial matters, and much more. I also see on a daily basis undocumented illegal women who have never paid taxes get free Medicaid for themselves, free care and citizenship for the infant. I, who have paid taxes and worked since I was 15 get no assistance, and will be FINED if I don't purchase health insurance as per the new law. Can anyone tell me where the justice is here? Can anyone tell me what ever happened to taking care of our taxpayers, the backbone of society?? Can anyone tell me how this is just, or fair; can anyone tell me how I, a middle-class taxpayer who will now be required to pay for 30 million more people to get free care but I can't afford insurance is being "helped" or "protected?" Thank you Jan Bussler

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    12. Pingback: Side Effects: Obamacare Creates More Unnecessary Work for Already Swamped Doctors | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    13. Pingback: Side Effects: Obamacare Creates More Unnecessary Work for Already Swamped Doctors | The Conservative Papers

    14. Pingback: Side Effects: Obamacare Creates More Unnecessary Work for Already Swamped Doctors | Fix Health Care Policy

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