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Ben Carson proposes a universal HSA program

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Dr. Ben Carson is calling for the United States to replace the current health savings account (HSA) program with a bigger, broader health empowerment account (HEA) program.

Carson, a Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon, included the HEA proposal in a health care reform plan he posted on his campaign website.

Carson says in the paper that he believes PPACA, which he calls “ObamaCare,” is a looming disaster.

“A lifetime in medicine taught me that the best health care decisions are made between patient and doctor,” Carson says in the paper. “As decision-making moves further away from patients and providers, the medical outcomes become less effective.”

PPACA increases costs and hurts the quality of care by restricting patients’ health care options, and their access to primary care doctors and specialists, Carson says.

See also: 4 PPACA individual mandate alternatives

Carson says he would start reforming the U.S. health care finance system by replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) with the HEA program, which would be similar to the current health savings account (HSA) program.

The HEA program would open an account for every citizen. Once the program was up and running, it would set up an account for every baby, as soon as the parents or guardians obtained a Social Security number for the baby.

Each HEA would belong to an individual for life. The individual could take the HEA along when the individual changed employers or moved across lines.

The government would put cash into the HEAs for poor people and send state Medicaid “fixed-dollar support,” or block grants. Carson would push for every state Medicaid program to offer access to private major medical insurance options.

Working-age people would pair the HEAs with high-deductible major medical coverage, to provide protection against the risk of major health problems and hospitalizations, Carson says.

People with Medicare would use the HEAs to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, including deductibles and co-payments.

To help Medicare enrollees pay for private coverage, the government would put money in the enrollees’ HEAs.

“If the plan’s premiums are less than the fixed contributions from Medicare, the entire difference will be paid directly into the individual’s HEA,” according to Carson’s plan. “Conversely, if the beneficiary chooses a private plan whose premiums are higher than Medicare’s fixed contribution, the individual will be allowed to use funds from his or her HEA, tax-free.”

Carson does not talk about how he might handle issues such as medical underwriting, coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, or parts of the PPACA commercial health insurance provisions that he might try to bring back after the law as a whole was repealed.

See also: Democrats wonder what to say about PPACA

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