Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

CT Insurance Dept. mulling expansion of 'short-term' plans

CT Insurance Dept. mulling expansion of 'short-term' plans

"There are many lawsuits and consumer complaints around the country stemming from unpaid bills" resulting from the short-term plans, Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the biggest US health philanthropy, said in a letter to the administration opposing the expansion of the plans.

The suit claims the administration's undermining of the ACA violates the Take Care Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act, and should be declared unlawful and stopped.

"It could cause thousands of families to lose everything they've worked so hard for when they are struck by illness or injury and their health plan does not protect them from financial ruin", the letter to HHS said. These rule changes represent his attempts to "reinvent and transform the system we have (with) the tools we have at our disposal" in a way that gives "as many options to individuals as possible".

The plans do not have to meet Obamacare's baseline coverage minimums, so things like prescription drugs or maternity care may not be covered under these plans.

The Trump administration estimates that 200,000 Obamacare enrollees will move to short-term plans next year. But the policies for individuals have no guarantees of coverage for existing medical conditions and come with limited benefits. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., call them "junk plans". Almost nine out of 10 plans sold on the marketplace are subsidized based on an individual's income.

Short-term plans, if they appeal to many consumers, could also play a role.

Short-term plans are less expensive because, unlike their ACA counterparts, which cannot bar people with preexisting health conditions, insurers selling these policies can be choosy - rejecting people with illnesses or limiting their coverage.

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Schumer said Democrats will introduce a resolution to rescind the rule using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to revoke an administration regulation with a simple majority any time up to 60 legislative days after it is published in the Federal Register. That means if a plan had a $1,500 deductible, it would in effect become a $6,000 deductible during a year.

The new rules will require extensive disclosure to ensure consumers know the limits of short-term policies, HHS officials said.

The rule will "help increase choices for Americans faced with escalating premiums and dwindling options in the individual market, said James Parker, a senior adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar". Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a prepared statement, "We remain concerned that consumers who rely on short-term plans for an extended time period will face high medical bills when they need care that isn't covered or exceed their coverage limits". In fact, these plans look a lot like the often all-but-useless private health plans that littered the individual market before the ACA reined in predatory and discriminatory insurance industry practices. Short-term, limited-duration health plans are not considered "health insurance" under federal law, and as a result, they do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

This is pure politics, It overlooks the nature of the plans: they are short-term plans, not for everybody (this is not the plan you would purchase if you have a pre-existing condition), and they fill a niche. Three-quarters of respondents to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll said it is "very important" that Obamacare's rule prohibiting insurers from denying coverage due to a person's medical history remains law, while almost that many feel the same way about banning insurers from charging sick people higher rates.

The costs of the new plans will be set in the marketplace, but without ObamaCare's mandates they will be cheaper. Under the new rule, the 12-month plans can be renewed for up to 36 months.

These plans can vary premiums based on age, gender, health status, and medical history.

DE insurance broker Nick Moriello said consumers should carefully consider their choice. "Our clients can't continue to pay rate increases in the double digits". The Trump administration is clearing the way for insurers to sell short-term health plans as a bargain alternative to pricey ‚à "úObamacare‚à "ù for consumers struggling with high premiums".

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