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Reports Highlight Perils of Junk Insurance Plans During Open Enrollment

By December 2, 2019No Comments

Americans shopping for health insurance during open enrollment are being warned about the perils of short-term “junk” insurance plans that cost more and cover less. As reports have made clear this past week, brokers often use deceptive marketing tactics to lure people into purchasing these seemingly lower-cost plans, which end up not covering pre-existing conditions and saddling patients with high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. The Trump administration and Republicans have pushed and advocated for these types of junk plans that undermine Americans’ health care. 

Anchorage Daily News (Alaska): Opinion: Alaskans Put At Risk By Junk Health Care Plans. “Junk plans are bad for Alaskans, plain and simple. Designed to skirt the Affordable Care Act’s vital consumer protections, they do not have to provide comprehensive coverage, and they allow insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. When junk plans are allowed to proliferate, consumers are often led to websites where brokers sell non-ACA compliant health insurance plans. Patients end up saddled with huge medical bills when they find out their insurance won’t cover basic things like hospitalization or prescription drugs, sometimes leading to bankruptcy.” [Anchorage Daily News, 11/28/19]

MPR News (Minnesota): Substandard Health Insurance Comes With Low Premiums But High Risk.“Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley said his office has been getting complaints. ‘People were trying to save some money on a plan and then discovered that they were actually going to have to spend more because something wasn’t covered,’ Kelley said.” [MPR News, 11/25/19

Houston Chronicle (Texas): Risky Business: Buying Health Insurance In The New Age Of Deregulation. “Under the Trump administration, significant portions of the individual insurance market have been deregulated and rules governing the federal health care law known as Obamacare rolled back. The goal is to deliver on an administration promise of lower premiums and greater choice. The trade-off, though, is a return to a past when polices came with restrictions and exemptions tucked inside, limiting coverage for pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs, hospitalization and preventative care…Further, because these plans operate outside the rules of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies backing them can spend less on customer medical claims and pocket a bigger share of premiums for overhead and profit.” [Houston Chronicle, 11/27/19

Pennlive (Pennsylvania): Shopping For Health Insurance? Be Wary Of Being Led Into ‘Junk Plans,’ Sen. Bob Casey Jr. Says. It’s the time of year when many Americans are shopping for health insurance and it can be a confusing and daunting task. It’s made more difficult by online advertisements designed to mislead consumers, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa. In particular, some of these searches direct customers to “junk plans” that may not cover pre-existing conditions, Casey said.” [Pennlive, 12/2/19

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania): He Didn’t Know He Had A Pre-Existing Condition – Until His Insurer Rejected His $35,000 Hospital Bill. “Once a common practice, the Affordable Care Act banned major medical plans from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or medical issues that existed before enrollment. But LaFrance didn’t have major medical insurance. He’d mistakenly purchased short-term limited-duration insurance, a type of plan that has become more readily available under the Trump administration. It’s less expensive, but also less regulated, and is allowed to refuse to pay for services related to pre-existing conditions.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/25/19