Dr. Lee Gross, President of the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation and the founder of Epiphany Health Direct Primary Care used an op-ed to describe an easy change in the law the Trump Administration could make that would open up enormous amounts of access to low cost, quality healthcare. The change would expand the use of health reimbursement account (HRA) funds to allow for expenditures on direct primary care (DPC):
HRAs are employer-funded accounts used to augment group health plans. Contributions made to HRA accounts are not taxed. Under Obama-era rules, HRAs can be used by employees to pay for qualifying health expenses, as determined by federal regulations and employers, in conjunction with a group health insurance plan.
HRAs can, for example, be used by people to cover out-of-pocket costs for a medical procedure. Funds that remain in an HRA account at the end of each year can be rolled over to the following year, encouraging health care savings. Although HRAs currently offer some employees and their family members important benefits, they have been limited dramatically by federal agencies — a problem the Trump administration is now working to solve.
The administration could improve its proposed rule by clarifying that patients who pay for direct primary care (DPC) agreements would be eligible for reimbursement through their employer’s HRA. By classifying DPCs as a qualifying health-care expense, employees could use their HRAs to pay DPC costs, making it easier than ever for them to have access to more affordable primary care services.