Friday, July 23, 2010

I Thought That If You Like It, You Can Keep Your Current Plan!

No worries, America! ObamaCare is all about preserving your quality, choice and control of your health care! If you like your present plan, you can keep it.

Well, today they changed it.

Beneficiaries of Health Savings Accounts have been previously allowed to use those funds for all kinds of medical expenses not covered by insurance, including over-the-counter medications.

Starting in January 2011, such will not be the case, unless one produces a note from one's doctor saying that the product is medically necessary.

This is a small change in the rules that will amount to small change in the pockets, of course. But it's worth noting for all its likely reasons and effects.

As to likely reasons, Obamanoids hate HSAs because they're (a) a Republican idea; (b) provide cost incentives to drive down the curve that are controlled by the patient instead of the government. So many observers have expected them to get trimmed as the ObamaCare rulemaking goes forward.

Of course, the public rationale for this would be that people are using their HSAs to buy over-the-counter drugs that they don't need. That, of course, ignores the fact that the HSA money would belong to the patient if not spent, so the patient has a very fine reason not to spend on unneeded Ibuprofen or whatever.

So instead, one must consult one's physician to obtain a note indicating a need for analgesics or Pepto-Bismol and so to enjoy the benefits of paying for such with untaxed dollars. Since such drugs are cheap, who will bother, especially when the consult will probably cost a fee to the doc?

Meanwhile, some patients, seeking a doctor's advice so as to obtain the needed note, may well find themselves taking prescription drugs when cheaper nonprescription drugs would be at least adequate. And so the cost curve rises all the more.

All these are minor enough concerns to deserve the label "petty." We note them SWINDishly, however, because they are indicative of the constant changing of rules and procedures that we can expect in the future, none really to the benefit of the patient, the federal fisc, or the body politic.

We told you.


JB in CA said...

I wonder if the AMA had a hand in this? Doctors do stand to gain financially from it, and they never have been very fond of patients seeking "alternative" remedies to their ailments. Now they'll be given an extra revenue stream to exercise even greater control over those "alternative" choices.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

The history of government-sponsored health benefits has been a history of payoffs to the AMA. Joseph Califano recently revealed that when he was doing research for Medicare for LBJ, he discovered that doctors were routinely doing procedures pro bono for elderly patients. So he proposed that LBJ propose that Medicare would pay by the procedure, and suddenly the AMA came out in favor of Medicare.