Saturday, December 09, 2006

UPDATED Some Good News on Healthcare Savings!!!

Cong. Paul Ryan (R, WI) keeps whacking away at solutions to health-care costs.

Another of his proposals has passed the House (and now waits for Senate approval, which must happen before the end of this calendar year to take effect.)

Write/call/email Kohl and Feingold!!!

Here's an interesting portion of the bill's contents:

Allows employees to fund HSAs with Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) funds.

Today, unused FSA benefits expire two and a half months after the end of a year. [The infamous "use it or lose it" provision which forces FlexSpending users to underestimate actual expense needs...] [and] HRAs are employer arrangements which allow employees to draw against employer resources.

Under current law, neither account may be used to fund an HSA, nor do FSAs and HRAs belong to the employee as HSAs do. As a result, employees may lose FSA and HRA benefits.

Under this bill, employees would have the ability to start an HSA by making a one-time tax-free transfer of FSA and HRA amounts in their accounts as of September 21, 2006 to an HSA which would belong to the employee. The transfer must be made before January 1, 2012.

So if you over-estimated your health expense requirements and have (say) $500.00 or $1,000.00 left over at the end of the year, you no longer have to give it up; you can simply open an HSA account with the leftover cash.

The money in the HSA would be yours to use for any health-related expenses not covered by insurance, and you can keep it through retirement. Same goes for HRA contributions made by your employer--they could be converted to an HSA in your own name.

Folks, this could be big money over a few years. Typical HRA contributions (which are made by your employer) are $1,000.+/year. If you and your family are reasonably healthy during 15 years of employment, you could have a nice $10K++ (or even more) fund 'on the side' for otherwise un-covered health expenses.

Repeat: call/write/email Sens. Kohl & Feingold.

UPDATE: Hard to tell what's happened here. HR 6408, the bill in question, was referred to the Senate. A large lump of legislation was passed by the Senate, but we don't know if 6408 was part of it:

In its last hours of GOP control, Congress passed a raft of bills big and small, most significantly a sweeping bill reviving expired tax breaks, extending trade benefits for developing countries and protecting doctors from a big cut in Medicare payments.

The legislation was then bundled and sent to the Senate for a single vote, where its popularity easily vanquished a handful of GOP opponents...

Maybe Thomas will have the results on Monday.

1 comment:

The Asian Badger said...

Well, you can write or email the Kohl and bin-Feingold all you want but neither of them give a damn.

bin-Feingold is too busy looking at himself in the mirror and Kohl is too stupid to understand it.