Statement on Proposed Short-Term Limited-Duration Health Plan Regulation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 20, 2018
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jeff Van Ness, (202) 204-7515
WASHINGTON—Today, ACAP CEO Margaret A. Murray issued the following statement on regulations recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pertaining to short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans:
“Short-term, limited-duration health plans have a role for consumers who experience gaps in coverage. They are not unlike the small spare tire in a car: they get the job done for short periods of time, but they have severe limitations and you’ll get in trouble if you drive too fast on them.
“Don’t take our word for it. The Administration itself says that ‘short-term, limited duration insurance…is not individual health insurance coverage.’ It’s right there in the preamble to the regulation. Nevertheless, HHS’s rule extends the window for short-term plans from three months to a year, which means that some people may see them as a cheaper substitute for Marketplace plans.
“This is a dangerous fallacy. These plans are allowed to discriminate based on health status and are free to ignore the consumer protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act. They can impose annual or lifetime limits, refuse to cover pre-existing conditions, and can engage in the practice of underwriting and even rescission—leaving consumers on the hook for costly treatments. These are the very issues the Affordable Care Act was meant to solve.
“A proliferation of these plans—especially if seen as an “alternative” given the repeal of the individual mandate, may ultimately keep some of the healthiest consumers out of the Marketplace risk pool; yet a robust and balanced risk pool is essential to keeping prices low for all consumers and containing the cost to taxpayers in the form of subsidies. The Administration also recognizes that this rule will cause the cost of Marketplace coverage to increase.
“It bears repeating that these plans can be effective stopgaps. But they are not functional as full-time health coverage products, and it would be a shame for consumers to find out the hard way should this proposed regulation go into effect.
“We urge the Administration to reconsider these provisions of their proposed regulations and look forward to discussing it further.”
ACAP represents 61 nonprofit Safety Net Health Plans in 29 states, which collectively serve more than 21 million people enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other public health programs. For more information, visit www.communityplans.net.
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