Healthcare Choices or Regulations – Where is the Solution?
by Chuck Donovan
Americans all talk about problems with healthcare. Among the topics included in our discussion are regulations, entitlements, costs, patient choices, and personal responsibility. Below are a few facts in regards to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA’s), and personal Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s). These are two choices Americans have when it comes to their healthcare planning. However, these choices are heavily regulated and are facing significant modifications under Obamacare.
I have said many times that we have made a complex mess of things and therefore the solutions are complex. It will take the accomplishment of many tasks to improve healthcare. Continued increases in the cost of healthcare and difficulties with access to it are caused by many factors including but not limited to: government regulation, government intervention, collusion between the AMA and the government that effectively reduces the supply of healthcare providers, collusion between hospitals and government that reduces healthcare locations, collusion between insurance companies and government that reduces competition in healthcare insurance, a bureaucratic “bottleneck” called the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) that effectively protects big pharmacy companies while reducing innovation and limiting patient access to new and improved drugs, and let’s not forget the effect of government monetary policy on healthcare prices. That is not a complete list, but does anybody else see a common thread there?
Government’s rules, regulations, programs, and ultimately their badges, guns and jails, are the negation of freedom. Let’s stop being enamored with government “solutions” to the healthcare challenge. Government is not the solution. Government is at the root of the problem.
Don’t be afraid to let freedom win.
- The average flexible spending account holder loses $138 dollars each year to the use-it-or-lose-it rule, according to Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (http://www.ecfc.org). That isn’t much, but it is a disincentive for those who would rather be saving for future medical needs. http://ebn.benefitnews.com/podcasts/5-end-year-tips-avoid-fsa-losses-2729660-1.html
- FSAs are not just for “the rich”. They are used primarily by the working middle class. The median income of FSA participants is approximately $55,000. From the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) MEMBER TOOLKIT, July 14, 2009, http://www.ecfc.org/files/ECFC_Save_My_Flex_Plan_Member_Toolkit.doc
- A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2012 is estimated to need $240,000 to cover medical expenses throughout retirement, according to the latest retiree health care costs estimate calculated by Fidelity Investments.® This represents a 4 percent increase from last year, when the estimate was $230,000. http://www.fidelity.com/inside-fidelity/individual-investing/retiree-health-care-costs-2012
- The total number of HSA accounts rose to more than 8.2 million with assets totaling $15.5 billion, a year over year increase of over 22% for accounts and a 27% increase in assets for the period from December 31st, 2011 to December 31st, 2012. 
- HSA investment growth accelerates. HSA investment assets reached an estimated $1.7 billion in 2012, a 55% increase since the end of 2011. The average investment account holder has an $8,918 average total balance (deposit and investment account), almost 4 times the average accountholder balance. 
- Average account balance steadily grows. The average account balance at the end of 2012 grew to $1,879 from $1,807 at the end 2011, a 4% increase. When you eliminate identified zero balance accounts that average rises to $2,283, a 7% year over year increase.
People want to be free.
People want choices.
People want to plan for their future and to have a little money put away for “a rainy day”.
When people are left free to make their own choices they invariably improve their own lives.
Use-it-or-lose-it regulations cost average Americans money, and therefore should be repealed.
When government makes more and more rules, in medical care or anywhere else in the economy Americans suffer.
Government makes the medical care challenges we face worse, not better.
- Reason TV: How Medicaid and Obamacare Hurt the Poor – and How to Fix Them, http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/04/25/how-medicaid-and-obamacare-hurt-the-poor
- The Deteriorating Administrative Efficiency of the US Health Care System, Reprinted from the New England Journal of Medicine 324:1253-1258 (May 2), 1991, http://www.pnhp.org/publications/the-deteriorating-administrative-efficiency-of-the-us-health-care-system, http://medicinesocialjustice.blogspot.com/2009/08/doctors-their-patients-and-health.html
 January 29th, 2013 | Health Savings Accounts Grow to $15.5 Billion in 2012 http://www.devenir.com/2013/health-savings-accounts-grow-to-15-5-billion-in-2012