The White House is taking its campaign to support the health savings account program on the road.
President Bush delivered a speech that included talk about HSA program changes Wednesday in Dublin, Ohio, at the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International Inc.
The HSA program can help consumers apply the same kind of free-market forces that cut the cost of LASIK eye surgery to other forms of medical care, the president said, according to a written version of his remarks.
Under the traditional health insurance system, “most Americans have no idea what their actual cost of treatment is,” the president said. “There’s no pressure for an industry to lower prices.”
If patients knew what the true costs were and controlled how their health care dollars were spent, the result would be better treatment at lower cost, the president argued.
The president reported Wendy’s HSA program has cut medical claims 17% and held the overall 2005 health care cost increase to 1%, and that about 90% of Wendy’s employees have cash left in their HSA accounts at the end of the year.
The president recommended several specific HSA program changes:
- Individuals who buy HSA-compatible health insurance should get the same tax breaks that members of employer-sponsored plans enjoy.
- Congress should lift the cap on HSA contributions above the level of the deductible, so that HSA holders can use HSA funds to cover all out-of-pocket expenses, including co-payments.
- Insurers should have the ability to sell employers HSA coverage that is portable, so that employees who leave can take their insurance as well as their HSAs.
- Health care providers and insurers should do a better job of providing price and quality information for common medical procedures.
The president also urged Congress to let small businesses join multistate association health plans and to make big changes to the medical malpractice system.