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Many Americans are facing unaffordable health care options. The majority of Wyoming employers I talk with have struggled with the expense of providing health insurance, but they also place a high value on assisting their employees with their health costs. Small business owners and their employees need better health care options that provide greater flexibility and empower employees in their health care choices. 

To help achieve that goal, I recently introduced legislation that would create a new tool for employees of small businesses to pay for health insurance and other health care expenses using Small Business Health Accounts. These health accounts would allow employees to set aside money on a pre-tax basis. Like a traditional Health Savings Account (HSA), this means employees could take advantage of triple tax benefits: 1. Workers could contribute to the account tax-free; 2. Workers could withdraw from the account tax-free; 3. The balance in the account could earn tax-free interest.

Small Business Health Accounts resemble the contribution limits and structure of an HSA but without many of the restrictions of an HSA. It then expands on the HSA’s benefits for even greater patient choice and flexibility. For example, Small Business Health Accounts could also be used to pay health insurance premiums, and they would not have to be paired with a high-deductible health plan. Removing some of the restrictions on health accounts for small employers and employees could make it easier for these businesses to continue to help provide health insurance or to expand the number of employers who can begin supporting their employees’ health insurance costs. My bill would create greater opportunities for employees to pay for their health expenses and save for future health needs. 

Flexibility also means that benefits could be rolled over. On the employer side, Small Business Health Accounts would continue to operate and roll over to a traditional HSA if the business grows or no longer fits the small business classification. For employees, unused balances from the health care account could roll over to the next year.

With this legislation, I believe that small businesses and their employees would be able to better manage their health care costs. These health accounts are oriented toward the challenges faced by small businesses. As a former small business owner, I know it is not easy to operate a business. But I also know the satisfaction you get when you see your business take off – the point where you think that you are really going to make it work. And the business owners I know see that as a shared success with their employees. It’s a community. You know their families. You want to make sure your people are taken care of. A small business owner and his or her employees should have more flexible and user-friendly options for health care. These accounts would put more freedom back in the hands of consumers and strengthen our small businesses in Wyoming.