For years, health policy experts have asked whether high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs) cause some patients to forego needed medical care. Rather than pay their high deductibles, these patients postpone visits to doctors or don’t get other necessary care, policy experts argue.
Now, researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID), Harvard University Medical School and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota suggest in a new report that the IRS should expand its definition of preventive services so that employers and health plans can structure incentives under HDHPs so that patients would not sacrifice necessary services. Changing the definition of preventive services would allow patients with chronic conditions to access more covered care, called secondary preventive services, just as insurers cover primary preventive-care services under the Affordable Care Act, meaning no charges, copayments or deductibles.
In a report released today, the researchers said millions of Americans in HSA-qualified HDHPs could benefit from expanded coverage of preventive services. The report was funded by the Gary and Mary West Policy Center. Among the researchers who prepared the report were A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., the director of the VBID center and professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan; Michael E. Chernew, Ph.D., Leonard D. Schaeffer professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School; and Stephen T. Parente, Ph.D., Minnesota insurance industry professor of health finance and insurance in the Department of Finance in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Continue reading