One issue sure to ignite the 2020 election year is the future of health care in America. As Congress resumes its session this fall, legislators on both sides of the aisle are anxious to pass health-care-related bills to gain positive campaign traction. Popular proposals include legislation to lower prescription drug prices and ban surprise medical bills.1
So far in 2019, 33 states have passed 51 laws relating to drug pricing, affordability and access. State legislatures have deployed several new measures, such as allowing prescription drugs to be imported from other countries, monitoring excessive price increases by drug manufacturers and establishing oversight boards to set drug prices paid by state and local government.2
If you’re concerned about the rising cost of health care and how it could affect your household budget, consider planning for higher increases in the future. Some Republicans in Congress have indicated that, should President Trump win a second term, they hope to reduce the nation’s ballooning deficit (projected to reach $1 trillion in fiscal year 2020) by reducing Medicare and Social Security benefits.3 With this in mind, we can help you explore tax-efficient ways to address health care expenses in retirement. Feel free to contact us for more information.
Employer options expanding
The federal government also has introduced a new rule that may help small businesses provide an additional health insurance option for employees. It allows employers to make tax-advantaged contributions to “health reimbursement arrangements” (HRAs). These accounts currently exist, but, until now, funds could not be used to purchase health insurance on the individual market. Beginning in January 2020, the new rule enables employers to offer this option to employees who do not have access to a company-sponsored plan. Workers will not have to pay income taxes on amounts the employer contributes to their HRA.4
The new rule gives employers the option to cease offering a company-sponsored health insurance plan and instead provide contributions to an HRA. Some observers say this change eventually could mirror the way companies used the 401(k) plan to stop offering defined benefit retirement pensions.5
Coupons for medical services
In an effort to reduce health care expenses, some consumers are turning to Groupon for discounts. Medical companies and facilities across the country have negotiated with the coupon website for procedures including mammograms, MRIs, CT scans and even back surgery. The strategy helps hospitals and other medical facilities generate a new revenue stream while giving uninsured patients an avenue to afford expensive medical care.6
1 Kaiser Health News. Sept. 9, 2019. “Beyond Gun Control: Prescription Drug Prices, Surprise Medical Bills Are At Top Of Congress’ Health Agenda For Fall.” https://khn.org/morning-breakout/beyond-gun-control-prescription-drug-prices-surprise-medical-bills-are-at-top-of-congress-health-agenda-for-fall/. Accessed Sept. 10, 2019.
2 Steven Findlay. Kaiser Health News. Sept. 9, 2019. “States Pass Record Number Of Laws To Reel In Drug Prices.” https://khn.org/news/states-pass-record-number-of-laws-to-reel-in-drug-prices/. Accessed Sept. 10, 2019.
3 Teresa Ghilarducci. Forbes. Aug. 23, 2019. “Trump’s Second-Term Plan For Social Security: Starve The Beast.”
4 Michael Kolber. The Hill. Aug. 20, 2019. “Could next year be the beginning of the end of traditional employer-sponsored health insurance?” https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/458032-could-next-year-be-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-traditional. Accessed Sept. 10, 2019.
6 Lauren Weber. Kaiser Health News. Sept. 6, 2019. “Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care.” https://khn.org/news/groupons-for-medical-treatment-health-care-discounts/. Accessed Sept. 10, 2019.
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