health

Real healthcare reform or sneaky government backdoor? New legislation would allow health savings accounts to cover nutritional supplements

Friday, July 19, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: health savings accounts, nutritional supplements, reform

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(NaturalNews) Two new pieces of legislation have been introduced before Congress that, if passed, will expand coverage options for individuals with either Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). According to a recent Action Alert issued by the Alliance for Natural Health - USA (ANH-USA), funds held in both HSAs and FSAs would cover dietary supplements under the new bills, a major policy change that has the potential to dramatically cut healthcare costs and further promote health freedom.

Introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Family and Retirement Health Investment Act of 2013 provisions that the term "medical care" be expanded in definition to include dietary supplements, allowing up to $1,000 from HSAs and FSAs to be spent on them for medical care each year. Additionally, Representative Erick Paulsen (R-MN) introduced House Resolution (H.R.) 2194 as a companion bill in the House.

Together, the bills would combine to establish a new policy of tolerance towards nutritional supplements, which are a keystone in the health and dietary regimens of millions of forward-thinking Americans. Currently, dietary supplements are excluded from virtually all insurance plans, which means patients must purchase them of their own accord at full cost. But the inclusion of dietary supplements in the scope of recognized medical care has the potential to change this and make natural treatments more affordable.

"This is important legislation because so many natural health advocates depend on HSAs and FSAs -- they can be used for integrative doctor visits and treatments not covered by conventional insurance," explains ANH-USA. "Expanding HSAs to include supplements will increase consumer access and choice, not to mention overall consumer health."

Including supplements under HSAs, FSAs will dramatically cut healthcare costs

A major selling point for the legislation, which was previously rejected by Congress back during the 2011 legislative session, is that it will help drastically reduce healthcare costs all across the board. A 2012 study conducted by the Rand Corporation, for instance, found that families with HSAs or FSAs spent an average of 21 percent less on healthcare in the first year after switching from conventional insurance coverage.

The same study found that if even just half of all individuals currently covered by employer-sponsored insurance adopted HSAs or FSAs, healthcare costs as a whole would drop by at least $57 billion annually. This is obviously quite significant, as healthcare costs have reached epic proportions in recent years, showing no definitive signs of slowing within this for-profit medical paradigm.

You can read the full Rand study here:
http://www.rand.org

Some worry adding coverage for supplements will be used as government backdoor for increased regulation

Furnishing the federal government with even more power over dietary supplements, however, may prove to be a mistake, say some. By allowing the government to essentially redefine dietary supplements to fit within the conventional medical system, there is the potential that rogue regulators will begin to take control over which dietary supplements people are allowed to access. Furthermore, the legislation also appears to make an erroneous assumption that the government possesses unique authority over dietary supplements, which could be a slippery slope for health freedom.

"I hope the expansion of 'medical care' to include dietary supplements is not the first step in having dietary supplements classified as a medicine, which therefore becomes a regulated product," wrote one commenter at ANH-USA.

You can read more about the legislation for yourself at the following links:
http://www.finance.senate.gov
http://www.govtrack.us

Sources for this article include:

http://www.anh-usa.org

http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com

http://www.rand.org

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