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Health Savings Sabotage
Opinion Journal ^ | 19 apr 08

Posted on 04/19/2008 12:36:39 PM PDT by rellimpank

Democrats have made affordable health care a mainstay of their election agenda, but apparently only if you're willing to get insurance through the government. Witness their stealthy assault on Americans who prefer the private-sector option of Health Savings Accounts.

This week, the House passed legislation that included a provision to require every HSA transaction be reviewed and verified as a legitimate medical expense. Democrats say this is to ensure that consumers are using their tax-free withdrawals for a knee replacement, rather than a new iPod. In reality it adds a layer of bureaucracy that could sharply reduce the appeal and cost savings of HSAs.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: congress; democrats; healthcare; healthinsurance; hsa; msa
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1 posted on 04/19/2008 12:45:00 PM PDT by rellimpank
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To: rellimpank

2 posted on 04/19/2008 12:50:00 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

At the Canadian/Michigan border people from Ontario are lined up to get into the US for private care...

How come nobody is covering this?

3 posted on 04/19/2008 12:51:56 PM PDT by kjo
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Anyone that does not see the nanny statism coming is a moron.

4 posted on 04/19/2008 12:56:32 PM PDT by Nailbiter
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To: kjo
Like everything else and why FRWN came into existence for the Truthful War News.

The BlameStreamMedia refuses to cover it and wants Liberal Fascism (read Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism) to rule America.

5 posted on 04/19/2008 12:57:29 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: rellimpank

And so we have another government offishul deciding what is or is not legit????? Ok on the knees but no kidney ....

6 posted on 04/19/2008 12:58:57 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("I Believe In Law Until It Interferes With Justice")
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To: kjo

BTW: That cartoon came from a 1948 edition of Punch Magazine.

7 posted on 04/19/2008 12:59:44 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: rellimpank
The Democrats want to force people to get their health care through the government. If there were really for health care choice, they would move to expand HSA's and other means to allow people to choose their own health care without government involvement.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus

8 posted on 04/19/2008 1:08:11 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: rellimpank

My FSA validates nearly every transaction, even ones for “Elliot Hospital,” because I have 10% coinsurance so the amount charged to the card is almost never exactly equal to the $25 copayment.

The drug stores have introduced item-level tagging, however, so stuff that doesn’t qualify can’t be charged to the card.

9 posted on 04/19/2008 1:11:54 PM PDT by mvpel
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To: rellimpank
Health Insurance was a scam to begin with. It was invented to let a defense contractor get around wage and price control during the Second World War. It is not even insurance but rather "pre-paid medical care." Think about it like your car, "Insurance" pays for unexpected emergencies not regular maintenance. And now "health insurance" has become all about government control of health with the full connivance of the Doctors Guild (American Medical Association). They need the money to pay for health care for illegals which is why if you are young and in good health in California they are not allowed to sell you true "insurance" for emergency treatment.

I discovered all this when I went into business for myself in 2002. My wife has a chronic disease and no company would sell me insurance at any price. But if she had not had it, the closest price would have been $2000 per month. Let's see now, over six years that would have cost me $144,000. So I self-insured. The brainwashing on this topic is amazing. All the time people, highly educated people, gape at my wife and I when we tell them we do not have insurance.

Here's what I did on my own. I put $300,00 into a mutual fund. Post-tax dollars, No HSA, no government involvement. We shop for our medical care. I have negotiated treatments that were priced at $3500 to $800. I buy my wife's medicine in Mexico or from Canada. And don't try to sell me drug company propaganda, they are the exact same drugs they sell at Costco or Rite-Aid. So at last reckoning (when I did my taxes this year) instead of being $144,000 poorer. I am well over $125,000 better off after 5 years.

Dance little puppets, dance!

10 posted on 04/19/2008 1:18:54 PM PDT by atomic_dog
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To: rellimpank

This isn’t really about health care. It’s about power. The Democrats want to control every aspect of our lives, and the health care scam is their way of accomplishing this. Private insurance would circumvent their agenda.

11 posted on 04/19/2008 1:50:43 PM PDT by murron (Proud Marine Mom)
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To: mvpel
“Elliot Hospital,”

I was born at the Elliot.

12 posted on 04/19/2008 2:03:53 PM PDT by politicalwit (AKA... A Tradition Continues...Now a Hoosier Freeper)
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To: rellimpank

It is my freakin’ money...!

13 posted on 04/19/2008 2:04:48 PM PDT by EBH ( ... the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness. --Alculin c.735-804)
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To: rellimpank
I know the inside story on this bill. It was proposed by a self-interested administrator (Evolution Benefits) who pays FSA claims. They wanted a piece of the $8 a month in fees they would get from everyone with an existing HSA. Many HSA enrollees currently pay nothing, as well as collect interest in their funds (I get about 5%, with no fees). This adds tons of extra hassle and expense for everyone, and ONLY claim administrators and Dem controlled congress makes out.

Late last week, Evolution Benefits reversed position and no longer supports the proposed law because of industry/enrollee outrage and anger from nearly everyone else. However, it was too late. Congress wants the $2 billion they stand to make off the increased hassle and lower enrollments in money saving HSA plans. This is NO documentation of abuse of any kind with existing HSA’s, NONE, NADA, ZIP.

Ironically, nearly every congressional office has enrollees in HSA plans through the Federal benefits program. It is very popular with penny-pinching, underpaid D.C. staffers.

Congress has absolutely no problem with screwing up the only thing that saves money in private healthcare for a few bucks. They really want to force us all into higher levels of dissatisfaction in the hopes we will demand single payer.
Their hypocrisy goes beyond even what I had ever imagined.

14 posted on 04/19/2008 3:04:28 PM PDT by Wiseghy ("You want to break this army? Then break your word to it.")
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To: atomic_dog

I agree with you, Atomic_Dog.

My 85 year old mother was paying over $500/month for simple drugs and she does not have any real serious problems. Her Medicare Part D coverage was a rip-off, $30 copay for a $4 drug x 6 plus another $30 a month for the insurance premium.

I moved her to a $10 per month plan to cover catastrophic needs, knowing around the first $5000 is my cost and then
I replaced everything she needed at a cost of $200/year.

I am a very knowledgeable consumer though.

The current medical system destroys lives, both physically and financially. Universal insurance is not the answer though. The free market would solve the problems- get rid of insurance and most regulations.

15 posted on 04/19/2008 3:11:12 PM PDT by Ron/GA
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To: Ron/GA

Please share with us how you did this.

16 posted on 04/19/2008 3:12:43 PM PDT by jslade (People who are easily offended......OFFEND ME!)
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To: Wiseghy

This is an outrage of the first order - and surely all those using HSA’s should find this out and protest!!! Directly to these stupid Congresspeople’s offices....and appeal of course for a veto to President Bush....

He will veto it, I am sure....but he must hear about it.

17 posted on 04/19/2008 6:58:06 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: jslade
I have to be careful with my reply. I can't be seen as directing you in circumventing any laws.

That said...

I have been thinking about this for a long time. Now that WalMart, Public, Kroger, etc. are offering generics for $4 per month, a lot of problems are solved. Still, if you require something that absolutely can't be solved with a $4 drug, there are options. I just need to figure out how to tell you what they are.

The media is complicit in this as they constantly talk about "counterfeit" drugs. For example, Pfizer produces a drug in Ireland and sells it all over the world. If you buy it here, OK... expensive, but OK. But, if you do an internet purchase from Brazil or some other country at 1/3 the US price, the media reports that you bought a counterfeit. You got the real thing but it is called a counterfeit because you did not buy it through normal channels. This is where the knowledgeable consumer issue comes in.

There are very reliable and inexpensive sources for drugs out there - just as there are crooks out there. I know the owner of one overseas manufacturer in India and he produces a number of drugs for US drug companies. His plant is FDA inspected and he follows GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). He can't sell anything here via the internet because he would lose his FDA certification. But he makes the drugs you take every day. It also drives him crazy to sell it for pennies and know that his customer sells it for thousands of times more. It is the system though.

I would not buy drugs from any solicitation that you get over the internet in your email. There is a 99.999 percent chance that it is a scam.

Canada drugs aren't much better, a lot of the Canadian drug sites are not really in Canada. Also, Canadian drug prices have risen - a lot- since they realized you don't have a lot of choices out there. 20-30% savings is about as good as it gets now. Better than US prices, but 20% off a $500 bill is still $400.

There are much better deals out there. Safe ones. I just need to figure out how to tell you about them.

OK, I just remembered this Business Week article. You can't read the whole thing unless you have a subscription but that's OK the information that you need is at the end of the 5th paragraph. Reliable source, still a little higher than other sources, but this one has been published in Business Week which makes it ok for me to point you there.

Business Week Article-Click Here

Also, New drugs, as patents expire, are being added to the grocery store lists all the time so you need to keep checking their websites for "generic drugs". For example, I just checked Publix for this note and found:

As of April 1, 2008, the following generic drugs are now available at your local Publix Pharmacy. Please speak with your Publix pharmacist for complete details about these drugs and their use:

* Ramipril 2.5, 5, and 10mg: A generic equivalent for Altace capsules
* Granisetron 1mg: A generic equivalent for Kytril tablets
* Pantoprazole 20, 40mg: A generic equivalent to Protonix
* Balsalazide 750mg: A generic equivalent to Colazol capsules
* Oxcarbazepine 150, 300, and 600mg: A generic equivalent for Trileptal tablets
* Cetirizine 5, 10mg: A generic non-prescription equivalent for Zyrtec tablets
* Alendronate 5, 10, 35, 70mg: A generic equivalent for Fosamax tablets

New drugs are becoming available all of the time. These generic drugs are expected to be available soon at your neighborhood Publix Pharmacy. Please ask your Publix pharmacist or check with your doctor for more information regarding these drugs and their use:

* Cetirizine/Pseudoephedrine: A generic non-prescription equivalent for Zyrtec D tablets
* Fexofenadine/Pseudoephedrine tablets: A generic equivalent for Allegra-D tablets
* Donepezil 5 and 10mg: A generic equivalent for Aricept tablets
* Desloratadine 5mg tablets: A generic equivalent for Clarinex 5 mg tablets
* Carbamazepine sustained-release 100 and 200 mg tablets: A generic equivalent for Tegretol XR tablets
* Pioglitizone 15, 30, and 45mg: A generic equivalent for Actos tablets
* Risperidone 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4mg: A generic equivalent for Risperdal tablets
* Zaleplon 5, 10mg: A generic equivalent for Sonata capsules

I just tried to call a Publix pharmacy on these to see what their pricing is as they probably are not be on the $4 list yet but they will be cheaper than you have seen these drugs before. Sorry, but they were closed.

Another source is Costco Wholesale Clubs. I hear that they sell their generics cheaper than anyone else (except for the $4 drugs at WalMart) I just checked their price for the equivalent of a Z-Pack (azithromycin, 6 tablets of 250 mgs) which I use as a good guage on someone's pricing. Costco's price was $15.89 for 3 tablets-500mg; just split them for 6 250's at a cost of $2.64 per dose. That's good for the US. If you walk into Walgreen's or CVS, you will pay $35 to $45 per Z-Pak ($6 to $7 per pill)unless you have drug coverage then it is whatever your copay is.

Your doctors office who dispenses is paying wholesale around $25 for this. I can't tell you why. The patent on this expired last year. It should be much cheaper now.

The source I mentioned in the Business Week article sells azithromycin for the equivalent of $1.15 per dose (You do have to buy 30 tablets for $34.50 but Z-paks are the more often prescribed antibiotic these days - take 2 the first day and then 1 more for 4 more days...6 tablets per therapeutic event. So you might have a few extra for next time.)

That is NOT the best price, I can find them for $.50 and I only have to buy 6. I just can't ... today ... tell you where. Just know the deals are out there and the key is to find some assurance that they are real.

The bottom line is that you have to become a "smart shopper". Most of the new expensive drugs are just tweeks that drug companies roll out when patent protection expires on one of their blockbuster drugs.

For example Prilosec (now half strength over the counter and still too expensive) was replaced by Prevacid and now Nexium. Testing reveals minimal difference in efficacy between them. So if you go the article that I mention above and find the site mentioned there you will find the generic equivalents of these drugs for half the cost. This place is not the best deal out there by a long shot but I have good reason to believe that they are reliable and ethical.

Another way they get you is to create an "extended release" version. These usually are more convenient and give a better "steady state" level in the body but you pay for it. If you are willing to be diligent in how you take your meds, you can live without the "extended release" factor.

For example, Metaprolol, better known as Topral, is now sold as Topral XR (extended release, XR, get it!) for around $3.50 per 100 mg tablet. You can get 60 tablets of 50mg generic metaprolol for $4 at WalMart. You just have to take 2 a day instead of 1. BUT you save $100 per month. You have to tell the Doc that that is how you want your prescription written - 50mgs generic metaprolol - twice a day... you pay $4 per prescription, not the number of tablets. (or just buy it that way over the net) At $4, you really won't save any money trying to buy it over the net. You have to be a shopper here.

Find affinity groups for what ails you. Whatever you've got there are many websites with forums where real people discuss the problem and where to find solutions.

Why am I telling you this stuff. Because for a lot of people this is a means of survival - the choice between drugs and food is made everyday and usually food wins.

Not to mention a drug that has a direct cost of less than a penny per dose being sold for $5 or $10 more than irritates me.

Don't get me started on research costs. Drug companies spend far more money on marketing than research. The new model is that drug companies don't do much research at all. Small companies and universities are doing most of it. When they find something, the major drug companies swoop in and buy buy it and finish the trials. Expensive? Yes, but generally nothing like the $800 million dollar figure that keeps getting printed as the cost for a new drug. Like I said, don't get me started.

If you need something really expensive and can't find it, send me a private email and I will see if I know someone who knows something about where to get it that you don't. Sorry to be obtuse but I don't need the drug police giving me a hassle.

For the flamers:

Yes, I know that there are irresponsible people out there and the comments that they should give up their cell phones for their drugs are all true. But there are millions of people where that is not the case. I don't know how to separate the two.

Also, I am well aware that you can throw yourself on the mercy of the drug companies and file financial history and ability to pay reports and maybe get a few pills (most people don't make the cut) but that is not a solution that is realistic... just as many hard working people would never dream of going to the ER and telling them that they can't afford to pay. They just tough it out and usually the outcome is not good.

And yes, people make choices and these choices bring them to their state in life. Sometimes though, events happen that take really good, hard working people into situations that all of the good choices in their world couldn't save them.

The current tax and regulatory environment is not helping either. The Federal and State governments are paying many times what they could be paying for generic drugs. If I can buy a Z-Pack for $4, why can't Uncle Sam instead of extracting $25 from your pocket to do the same thing. Why did the new Medicare Part D legislation prohibit the negotiation of drug prices? How stupid are we?

In any event, if you don't agree with what I have just said, it obviously does not apply to you.

PS. I should have known someone was going to ask me this question, this is all the time I have for it right now. I had intended to do this all along in more detail but for now this will have to do. I think guerrilla medicine from a number of different fronts is needed. Well, more on this someday.

I hope this helps.
18 posted on 04/19/2008 7:13:29 PM PDT by Ron/GA
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To: Ron/GA

Thanks for the info. Makes sense.

19 posted on 04/20/2008 3:11:14 AM PDT by jslade (People who are easily offended......OFFEND ME!)
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To: atomic_dog
Here's what I did on my own. I put $300,00 into a mutual fund. Post-tax dollars, No HSA, no government involvement. We shop for our medical care. I have negotiated treatments that were priced at $3500 to $800. I buy my wife's medicine in Mexico or from Canada.

Congratulations, wish more people could do what you do, but the govt will make that as difficult as possible. The "insurance" system that you avoided pays for things like "Children's Hospital Launches Sex Change For Kids Program" and many other insanities along with the general diminution of self reliance.

20 posted on 04/20/2008 3:23:59 AM PDT by palmer
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