IRS loosens restrictions on health savings account access

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) just expanded the types of preventive services that high deductible health plans (HDHPs) can cover without requiring a deductible. The new services include inhaled corticosteroids and peak flow meters when used to prevent asthma exacerbations. 

In IRS Guidance Notice 2019-45, the IRS explains that individuals who contribute to a health savings account (HSA) must be covered under an HDHP for the HSA contributions to qualify for tax savings. HDHPs are not permitted to provide benefits until the minimum deductible for the year is satisfied, but there is an exception for preventive care. However, HDHPs are not required to offer these services before the deductible is met – it is up to each plan.

The change is intended to address cost barriers.  Due to high costs, some individuals who are diagnosed with certain chronic conditions do not access treatment, including drugs to prevent exacerbation of their condition. The ruling went into effect July 17.

You may want to encourage your patients with HDHPs to check with their plans to see if inhaled corticosteroids or peak flow meters now qualify for coverage as preventive care.

Advocacy Issue: 
Billing, Coding & Payments