Short-term insurance plans leave patients with high costs, less coverage

In August the U.S. Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services issued a final rule that would expand the use of “short-term, limited-duration insurance plans." More than 25 patient and consumer groups representing millions of people with pre-existing health conditions issued the following statement:

“Our organizations, representing more than 100 million American consumers, providers, and patients, are deeply troubled by the administration’s decision to finalize a short-term, limited-duration insurance (short-term) rule. Despite serious concerns expressed by individuals and organizations across the entire spectrum of our health care system, the administration has finalized a rule that will reintroduce health insurance discrimination based on gender, health status, age, and pre-existing conditions.

“A striking 98 percent of stakeholder groups who commented, including many of our organizations, either expressed extreme concerns with the rule or outright opposed it as drafted, emphasizing its negative impact on patients and consumers. The administration has disregarded those warnings and issued a final rule with few changes, aside from limiting renewals of short-term coverage to up to 3 years— which does nothing to resolve the fundamental problems with this policy. This rule will siphon younger and healthier individuals out of the individual market risk pool, forcing patients with preexisting health conditions to pay far higher costs for the comprehensive coverage they obtain through the insurance marketplaces. It will also expose those younger, healthier individuals to the significant risk that their health plan will fail to cover critically necessary care if they fall ill or develop a serious medical condition.

“Allowing short-term plans to proliferate offers no relief from the problems that plague our health care system, and instead will exacerbate the affordability concerns for unsubsidized individuals even as many states are implementing reinsurance programs to lower costs. We are dismayed that the administration has chosen a course of action to further dismantle rather than stabilize the health insurance marketplace, potentially costing the millions of Americans our organizations represent their coverage or even their health. We now call upon states to stand up for the patients left behind by this rule and take action to protect patients, stabilize the marketplaces, and bring down costs for consumers.”

This statement was issued by: Adult Congenital Heart Association, Alpha-1 Foundation, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, COPD Foundation, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Voices, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services in America, March of Dimes, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Health Council, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders; National Patient Advocate Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, Susan G. Komen, United Way Worldwide. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Woman with Heart Disease.

Topher Spiro, vice president for Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, made the following statement in response to the rule’s release:

“The American people should not be fooled: These plans are the Trump University equivalent of health insurance. This is just the latest example of President Donald Trump breaking his promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions. By proliferating the sale of junk insurance plans that exclude critical benefits and have higher out-of-pocket costs that many cannot afford, this rule will increase costs for consumers with health needs. But it’s not just consumers enrolled in these plans who could pay more—this rule will also increase premiums for middle-class families currently enrolled on the individual market. If Congress refuses to protect consumers, states must intervene to ban the sale of junk insurance.”

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