Some Doctors Indicate Support for Health Savings Accounts at Joint Economic Panel Hearing
Doctors who require patients to pay out of pocket for treatment because they do not contract with health insurers testified in favor of health savings accounts at a Joint Economic Committee hearing Wednesday, the Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News reports (Davidson, Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, 4/30). Under the new Medicare law, HSAs, which allow consumers to save funds tax-free for future medical expenses, are available to members of health plans that have an annual deductible higher than $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family. The law allows consumers to deposit the amount of the annual deductible -- this year a maximum of $2,600 for individuals and $5,150 for families -- into HSAs (California Healthline, 3/31). Doctors who require patients to pay out of pocket said that eliminating contracts with health insurance companies and Medicare would save patients money and improve care, the Deseret Morning News reports. Dr. Robert Berry, a Tennessee-based cash-only doctor who says his fees for patients are about half of Medicare reimbursement rates, said, "The only way that I can keep my price so low is by avoiding the crushing overhead and hassles that other physicians allow third-party payers to impose on their practices."
Rep. Pete Stark (D- Calif.) said, "Today's hearing appears to be the next installment in the Republicans' push toward replacing traditional health care insurance with high-deductible health plans." He added that such plans would likely undermine coverage that people receive through their jobs," the Deseret Morning News reports. Committee Chair Bob Bennett (R-Utah) said, "[T]here is no conspiracy ... to try to undermine the present system," adding that the hearing was intended "take a fresh look" at "every conceivable part" of the health care system as part of an effort to control rising health care costs (Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.