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IRS rolls out new rules for patients with high-deductible plans, chronic diseases

The IRS rolled out new rules Wednesday to help people who have chronic diseases, but are also on the hook for thousands of dollars of their medical bills.

How it works: The new rules allow insurers to cover treatment for chronic conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, before patients have met their deductibles.

  • This only applies to high-deductible plans that also offer a health savings account — which is an increasingly common arrangement.

My thought bubble: High-deductible plans and chronic disease are both pretty ubiquitous, and this will surely help sick people get the care they need.

  • As the Wall Street Journal notes, there's a broad base of support for these new rules, including patients, insurers and policymakers from both parties.

But it's hard to look at this change without asking some more fundamental questions about the rise of deductibles.

  • After all, making people pay for more of their own care is the whole point. High-deductible plans were designed to give people more "skin in the game."
  • It only stands to reason that when you require people to pay a couple thousand dollars of their own bills before insurance kicks in, that's primarily going to affect people who have a couple thousand dollars in health care bills.

Deductibles are a large and growing source of frustration for middle-class families, the L.A. Times' Noam Levey writes.

  • Neither high deductibles nor health savings accounts have put a dent in health care prices, as their advocates thought they would.
  • And families with the highest deductibles are among the least satisfied with their employer coverage.

Go deeper: Workers' health care costs just keep rising