The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a number of bills intended to expand access to consumer-directed health plans and other health coverage.
 
One bill (H.R. 6311) would modify the definition of a qualified health plan for purposes of the premium tax credit, and allow individuals purchasing health insurance in the individual market to purchase a lower value “copper” plan or use the tax credit to buy off-marketplace coverage.
 
In a letter submitted to committee leaders yesterday, AHA said, “The challenges already identified of individuals unable to afford care within their deductibles would be exacerbated in even lower value plans. In addition, the bill acknowledges that the government would be unable to process a premium tax credit in advance. Rather, consumers would only be able to access their tax credit at tax filing, not at the time of premium payment, making premium payments for off-marketplace products unaffordable under this option for many lower income individuals.”
 
The other bills would expand access to consumer-directed health plans, which pair a health savings account with a high-deductible health plan. Among other provisions, the bills would allow CDHPs to provide certain coverage up to a dollar limit without satisfying the minimum deductible; covered individuals to have a direct primary care service arrangement or receive certain employment-related health services; and individuals only enrolled in Medicare Part A to contribute to health savings accounts.
 
AHA said CDHPs “may be an appropriate form of coverage for some individuals, including those who have high health care literacy and sufficient means to fund their HSAs or otherwise cover higher upfront costs. However, the AHA is concerned about the ability of these plans to lower costs and expand access to care for individuals who may not be aware of the limitations of such coverage and who do not have the means to fund their HSAs or otherwise pay for initial care out of pocket.”