This week, I introduced an alternative to Obamacare. We need more choices, not government mandates. I believe that health care is a basic need (ie: if you break your arm, your body needs it to heal), but health insurance should not be mandated. Here are some of the options that I'm proposing:
Expanded use of Health Savings Accounts. Currently, people are able to purchase both high-deductible and low-deductible plans. Both of these plans have existed for years and I support both of these plans continuing. A high-deductible health plan is a bare-bones plan that allows people to have the peace of mind that they are covered in extreme circumstances without giving them unneeded coverage; every benefit your insurance covers adds to the cost of your premium. For example, why should you have to pay higher monthly insurance premiums for nurse midwives or chiropractic services mandated by certain states to be covered by your insurance, if you as an individual don't need that coverage? And, if you ever did need these services, it would be less expensive to pay the one-time, out-of-pocket cost, than to pay for a whole year to have insurance that covers those benefits.
In a high-deductible health plan, you pay ultra-low premiums, and insurance only kicks in once you reach a higher dollar amount than traditional plans (currently about $3,200). These plans work best for people who are generally healthy and only need health insurance for extreme circumstances. They are also typically more affordable than traditional (low-deductible) plans. Most people who have a high-deductible health plan also have a tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA). You can keep the money in the account for as long as you want; it is not a use-it-or-lose-it account, like a Flexible Spending Account. Expanding the use of Health Savings Accounts will allow people the opportunity to use pre-tax dollars to pay for their premiums, etc.
My plan expands the use of Health Savings Accounts:
It will increase the amount of pre-tax dollars you can save in the account to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for families. This money stays in the account for as long as you want, and you can put in as much or as little as you want at a time or in a year. The only stipulation is that the money after $10,000/individual and $20,000/family you put in the account is not tax-free.
Under Obamacare, you cannot purchase over-the-counter medications using your HSA dollars. The PATIENT Health Care Act repeals this ban and allows people to purchase over-the-counter medications using HSA dollars.
Much like a college savings account, my PATIENT Health Care Act allows parents to open and begin contributing tax-free dollars to an HSA for their child, continuing until the child reaches adulthood, when that account may be turned over to the child. This will ensure that young individuals do not forego health coverage because they cannot afford the premiums, thereby placing more healthy individuals in the overall insurance pool to help bring the overall cost of health insurance down.
Give Medicare beneficiaries more options.
Currently, Medicare beneficiaries cannot continue to save with an HSA. The PATIENT Health Care Act would allow Medicare beneficiaries to:
Continue contributing to an already existing HSA upon reaching Medicare eligibility, OR
Have the option of choosing a Medicare plan that includes a Health Savings Account component, OR
Take advantage of a one-time, tax-free transfer of funds from an HSA into a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MMSA) upon reaching Medicare eligibility, OR
Allow current beneficiaries of an MMSA plan to begin contributing their own personal dollars to the account
Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines.
Health insurance should be something that is not lost because someone loses a job; people should have the option to keep the health coverage wherever they go, and should be able to pick and choose insurance packages based on what best suits their health needs. My plan creates a framework for portable health coverage.
Provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
Individuals should not have such difficulty in obtaining health coverage due to a pre-existing condition; therefore, we must continue our efforts to provide an avenue for temporary coverage until the marketplace is stable enough to offer coverage to them at a fair price. My plan re-authorizes the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program through 2016.