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Great Moments in Healthcare Legislation

Here are a few notable pieces of legislation from the past 40 years, designed to benefit and protect America’s healthcare consumers. You’ve certainly heard of these big-name acronyms – but do you know when and why they came to be?

EXTENDING BENEFITS TO THE UNEMPLOYED (1986)

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), passed by Congress in 1985 and signed into law in 1986, requires employers to offer partially subsidized health insurance to employees who lost their jobs.

ADDED PROTECTION & ENHANCED PRIVACY (1996)

Enacted in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs, and requires national standards for electronic healthcare transactions. However, it becomes best known for its sections protecting patient privacy.

EMPOWERING THE CONSUMER (2003)

The Health Savings Account (HSA) is signed into law on December 8, 2003, through the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), which allows individuals enrolled in certain high deductible health plans to open and fund an HSA. With their triple-tax advantage, and in the face of rising healthcare costs, HSAs – such as those powered by the Alegeus platform – continue to proliferate to this day.

EXPANDING ACCESS & IMPROVING COVERAGE (2010)

In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is signed into law, marking the largest health insurance expansion in 45 years. The law requires citizens to have health insurance and bars insurers from denying coverage. Half the law is devoted to encouraging delivery system reform.

FINANCIAL RELIEF DURING A CRISIS (2021)

The Consolidation Appropriation Act (CAA) 2021 is signed by Congress on December 27, 2020, providing nearly $1 trillion in COVID-related relief. This piece of legislation also provides welcome relief for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), which was requested by employers and other industry advocates. Specific provisions within the act allow employers the opportunity to review their plan designs and decide which changes should be implemented to provide additional assistance with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSAs).