Patients With High-Deductible Health Plans to Get Greater Flexibility

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Insulin, inhalers, and other treatments for chronic health problems will soon become more affordable.  The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department will introduce new flexibility for high-deductible health plans. In fact, 20 million Americans already use these savings accounts.

In addition, consumers with these plans must pay their deductibles before their insurers will cover treatment. However, an insurer will pay for a procedure considered preventive, such as a mammogram. Hence, people with ongoing medical conditions pay out of pocket for blood-pressure monitors, antidepressants, and inhalers. Indeed, employers, insurers, and patient advocacy groups have been seeking this policy modification for a while.

Furthermore, policymakers drafted the change as guidance: “Failure to address these chronic conditions has been demonstrated to lead to consequences, such as amputation, blindness, heart attacks, and strokes that require considerably more extensive medical intervention,” according to a draft of the guidance reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Moreover, a formal rule-making procedure is not necessary and can be brought into health plans as early as 2020. Therefore, this policy will benefit as many as 133 million people who have chronic medical problems.

Finally, consumers will be able to seek treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The new policy will help them to avoid/prevent more costly, debilitating health problems.