By Jonathan Ingram, Nic Horton and Josh Archambault— Mr. Ingram is Research Director, Mr. Horton a Policy Impact Specialist, and Mr. Archambault a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability
Arkansas’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion has been a costly misadventure. The expansion has been so misguided in fact, that lawmakers voted earlier this year to end it, effective December 31, 2016.
That hasn’t stopped state bureaucrats from scurrying to institute a new component of expansion that makes the program even worse. Under this plan, some enrollees are asked to contribute nominal amounts to new “Health Independence Accounts,” or HIAs, which were supposed to mirror health savings accounts.
But these new . Now that the program is up and running, the evidence is mounting: so-called “independence” accounts are actually reducing enrollees’ “skin in the game,” and costing even more money for taxpayers.
Arkansas legislators meet in the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
Health Independence Accounts Are Nothing Like Health Savings Accounts
Under this new Obamacare Medicaid expansion tweak, enrollees above the federal poverty line are “required” to make monthly contributions to HIAs. But the truth is that this “requirement” is more like a mere suggestion. If enrollees refuse to contribute to their accounts, they aren’t removed from the program.
These suggested contributions start at just $10 per month. But unlike real health savings accounts, Private Option enrollees will not use funds in their HIAs to pay for their own medical care. Instead, the money will simply sit in enrollees’ accounts until they leave the program. At that point, they can take the money with them and use it toward other health care costs. Continue reading