Press Room

Jun 09 2006

Senators Coburn, DeMint, Vitter, Inhofe and Cornyn Introduce Legislation to Improve Health Savings Accounts

Bill would increase contribution limits, provide flexibility to consumers

^(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician, today introduced legislation to improve health savings accounts (HSA).  Joining Dr. Coburn as original cosponsor were Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), David Vitter (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

“A consumer-driven health care market will not only control costs, it will improve access to health care and markedly improve the quality of care for all Americans,” Dr. Coburn said.^  “Consumers should be in charge of making health care decisions, not insurance companies or government bureaucrats.  Expanding health savings accounts will help put consumers back in charge of their own health care.”

Senator DeMint said, “Health Savings Accounts turn patients into shoppers and equip them with buying power.  This legislation will expand HSAs and allow Americans to control their own health care decisions.”

Senator Cornyn commented, “This bill will move us closer to a true consumer-oriented health care system, reducing government influence over health care decisions and putting consumers in charge of their decisions and dollars.  The legislation will improve HSAs by making them more flexible and portable, so I encourage my colleagues to support it.”

Senator Vitter said, “With incentives to help Americans save for their health care costs tax-free, this bill is vital in our efforts to make affordable health care more available to more families and small businesses.  Consumers should be making more health care decisions with their doctors, not their insurance companies, and improving HSAs will help us get there.”

The Coburn bill gives premium deductibility to individuals purchasing HSA-compatible insurance on their own; reimburses payroll taxes paid on HSA-compatible insurance premiums and HSA contributions; allows employers to provide larger contributions to the HSAs of acutely and chronically ill employees; allows Health Reimbursement Arrangement to rollover into HSAs; allows premiums for high deductible health plans to be paid from an HSA; and enables portability of consumer-driven HSA-qualified health insurance plans, which reduces “job lock” by allowing Americans to take their health insurance with them when they change jobs, move, or become self-employed.

“Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed in recent years in large part because health insurance has evolved into pre-paid health care,” Dr. Coburn said.  “HSAs can solve this problem by allowing patients to use their own tax-free dollars for smaller medical expenses like routine physician visits and prescription drugs, items usually paid for through insurance premiums.  HSAs give consumers ‘some skin in the game’ by putting them in charge of health care dollars.  When individual consumers own their health care dollars, they can become smart consumers and have the chance to look for value and quality.”

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