As negotiations on the next COVID package continue, negotiators should seek to include provisions that increase the availability, access, and use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in order to enable Americans to have more flexibility when paying for healthcare services throughout the pandemic.
One such proposal is Senator Ted Cruz’s and Congressman Ted Budd’s Pandemic Healthcare Access Act (S.3546/H.R.6338). This proposal would suspend the mandate that requires individuals wanting to open or contribute to an HSA to be on a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Decoupling HSAs from HDHPs during the pandemic would enable the millions of Americans who don’t currently have eligible health plans—Medicare, Affordable Care Act plans, TRICARE, the VA, Indian Health Service or any employer plan—to have temporary access to this critical, tax-advantaged health savings tool.
By enacting this proposal, all Americans will be able to benefit from the flexibility that comes with using an HSA to save for healthcare expenses during the pandemic and can use those funds to pay for their deductible and direct primary care. The proposal would also enable individuals to use telemedicine below their deductible.
As The Heritage Foundation’s Senior Research Fellow for Health Policy, Nina Owcharenko Schaefer has previously pointed out:
Much of the debate over the next phase of COVID-19 response is focused on money: how much we should spend, and where. But there is more we can do on the regulatory side. Easing government rules has been a critical component in the response so far—and it should continue.
Heritage Action has continued to advocate for the Pandemic Healthcare Access Act throughout the pandemic and urges members of Congress to support the proposal.