2019 brought us some pretty cool things:

  • Baby Yoda
  • The first-ever image of a black hole
  • A World Cup win for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
  • An expansion of preventive care benefits for people with HSA-qualified high-deductible health plans

True, number four may not be an adorable Jedi, a glimpse into another galaxy, or an outstanding feat of athleticism, but it’s still pretty awesome for the 133 million Americans who are living with chronic conditions.

There’s been a longstanding misconception that health savings accounts only benefit the young and the healthy. While it’s true that HSAs are a fantastic tool for people who rarely use their healthcare benefits, they are also a huge boon to people who nearly always hit their out-of-pocket maximum. The latter category includes most Americans with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues.

Until last year, people with high-deductible plans had to pay for the medications and services used to manage most chronic conditions until they met their deductible. But new rules from the IRS and Treasury Department suggest that certain chronic disease medications should qualify as preventive care, and will thus be covered before the deductible is met.

Insurance and benefits groups welcome the change.

“Pre-existing, chronic conditions are debilitating for millions of Americans,” said James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council. “These conditions also represent an enormous drain on the economy through high health costs and reduced employee productivity. Modernizing HSAs to address chronic disease prevention is important to help tackle this problem.”

A recent study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) shows that treatment of chronic conditions is the leading driver of our nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare costs, and that five chronic diseases and their associated risk factors cost U.S. employers $36.4 billion a year in lost productivity.

The expanded list of preventive-care benefits includes:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors for congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease
  • Beta-blockers for congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Inhaled corticosteroids for asthma
  • Insulin, glucose meters, and glycated hemoglobin testing for diabetes
  • Selective statin reuptake inhibitors for depression
  • Statins for heart disease

Browse the full list here.

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