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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

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

4 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.