WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation to improve primary care options for individuals with high-deductible health insurance plans.

H.R. 5858, the Primary Care Patient Protection Act of 2018, would create a primary care benefit for all high-deductible health plan (HDHP) holders allowing for up to two deductible-free primary care office visits each year.

The use of HDHPs has drastically increased among individuals and employers in the past decade. According the Centers for Disease Control, among privately insured individuals under the age of 65, more than 43 percent were enrolled in a HDHP in the first half of 2017, compared to just 25 percent in 2010.

While HDHPs have low monthly premiums, they require the plan holder to pay 100% of their medical costs before insurance kicks in. Evidence shows that the high initial out-of-pocket costs often deter individuals from seeking primary care services, a problem that can lead to much higher future healthcare costs.  

“I am committed to ensuring North Country families have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and I am pleased to join Rep. Schneider on this bipartisan healthcare legislation," said Stefanik. "By increasing access to primary care without the burden of co-pays or deductibles, patients will be more likely to seek preventative care, which results in better health outcomes and cost savings. This legislation is endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, and I urge my House colleagues to support this patient-centered healthcare policy."

“Financial burdens should not prevent Americans from seeing their primary care doctor to discuss critical health care needs,” said Schneider. “The upfront costs of high-deductible health plans discourage too many Americans from getting the preventative care they need, leaving issues untreated and ultimately resulting in higher costs and poorer outcomes down the line. I appreciate Rep. Stefanik joining me to introduce this bipartisan legislation to improve the health care options available to patients with high-deductible plans.”

The Primary Care Patient Protection Act is supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

“Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician is one of the most important factors in preventing both new health problems and complications from existing chronic conditions,” said Michael Munger, MD, president of AAFP. “This bill preserves that patient-physician relationship by tearing down a financial barrier that can discourage or block patients from getting important preventive and care management services. We applaud Reps. Schneider’s and Stefanik’s leadership and we welcome their introduction of the ‘Primary Care Patient Protection Act of 2018.’”

Full text of the legislation is available online.