New Guidance Expands Preventive Care Benefits for Treatment of Chronic Conditions

July 18, 2019

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Elizabeth (Izzy) Montgomery, MPA
Policy Analyst

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On Wednesday, July 17, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance expanding preventive care benefits available under health savings accounts (HSA) paired with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), a potential game changer for those dealing with chronic conditions.

Previous guidance excluded services or benefits intended to treat an existing illness, injury, or condition from the definition of preventive services. This raised concerns that individuals with chronic conditions receiving coverage through HSA-HDHPs would be discouraged from seeking care to manage their conditions due to cost. Under the new guidance, insurers will be able to provide coverage for medications and services to treat specific chronic conditions before the plan deductible is paid.

Of families enrolled in private-sector coverage nationally, 51% participate in HDHPs. This new guidance could provide financial relief for those in HDHPs and further incentivize the use of HSAs. In Arkansas, 48% of families enrolled in private-sector coverage participate in HDHPs.

The impact of this new guidance could be significant for individuals and families managing chronic conditions. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation and L.A. Times survey of adults with employer-sponsored insurance found that 54% of those surveyed reported that someone covered by their plan also had a chronic condition such as hypertension, asthma, or diabetes. Three-quarters of the individuals surveyed in the highest-deductible plans who also reported having a family member with a chronic condition stated that their family member delayed or skipped treatment for their condition due to concerns about cost.

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