WebMD interviews Newt Gingrich

Newt GingrichI found an interesting article this week:

Click here to read the article on WebMD

HereĀ is my response:

The only thing Newt didn’t mention in this fantastic interview is that we do have one solution available today that achieves most of the objectives he is outlining. I am one of approximately 5 million Americans that have started one. They are called Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs.

Since HSA qualified plans require a high deductible insurance policy without copays for physician visits or prescription drug coverages I have an incentive to shop for the best value. Since copays insulate consumers from the actual cost of the products, it encourages people to spend.

What other product in our free-enterprise society is delivered with a copay? Imagine purchasing a car with only paying a $200 copay and having someone else pay the rest of the actual cost. Would any of us be driving the same car we drive today?

I couldn’t agree with Newt more on his analysis of prescription drug advertising. It has always frustrated me seeing the commercials stating we should “ask our doctor about” this latest and greatest prescription, yet there is never a mention of cost. Most people think, “Well that’s what I’m paying these huge health insurance premiums for”.

Although prescription drug and physician visits are part of my comprehensive major medical insurance policy, they accumulate towards my calendar year deductible. I still receive the insurance company’s PPO discount on these expenses. Should I satisfy my deductible, my insurance policy covers 100% of all of my medical bills for the rest of the calendar year for my entire family.

Those of us with HSA qualified insurance plans have a vested interest in NOT spending our health care dollars. The premium we are saving (and I’m saving a lot) can be placed into a triple tax-advantaged HSA account. I pay my medical expenses for my family out of the HSA account. If I don’t spend it, I keep it. My wife knows to ask the doctor if there is a generic available because every dime we spend out of our HSA is actually money out of our retirement. We still have insurance in case of a large claim, but we cover the small bills ourselves with money we would have paid to the insurance company.

HSA qualified insurance policies are allowed to cover preventive care such as annual checkups, immunizations, mam/pap, prostrate screening, etc. immediately without having to satisfy the deductible. Our particular insurance plans do, although not all of them offer this wellness feature. In some years wellness checkups are the majority of our expenses, and the insurance company pays it all.

These type plans are called “Consumer-Driven” or “Consumer-Directed”. They are showing great promise in reducing utilization while still offering a comprehensive major-medical insurance plan in case of a major claim.

It is great to see some of the larger companies finally beginning to offer these HSA qualified plans for their employers. Unfortunately they are not always designed to place the premium savings into the HSA account. With proper design and education for employees, these plans offer an actual solution to the ever increasing health care costs.

I just hope Newt’s calculation of 40% reduction without sacrificing quality becomes a reality. I know it has for my family.

Thanks for getting a great message out Newt!

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