Keep fighting for affordable health insurance for all.
The Trump Administration has found yet another way to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the individual health insurance market. Lucky for Washington consumers, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has their backs.
Kreidler is protecting consumers against the Trump Administration’s ill-conceived attempt to allow Americans to sidestep the requirements of the ACA and sign up for short-term medical plans without the protections codified in Obamacare.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new regulations that would invite insurance companies to again offer low-benefit health plans, through so-called short-term medical plans.
The short-term plans are not short — they can last nearly a year. They do not cover pre-existing conditions and are not required to cover the essential health benefits of the ACA, such as coverage for mental-health services, maternity and prescription drugs.
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The plans will be less expensive than the plans currently being sold under the ACA rules, and probably not worth a whole lot if someone does get sick. Young, healthy people may sign up to save themselves some money, but if they do get sick with something expensive to treat, these short-term plans offer a rude surprise. Kreidler says it’s likely the insurance company will try to prove that whatever the cause of the needed treatment was a pre-existing condition.
Short term plans also might hurt other insurance customers, by driving up premium prices on regular plans. The simple math of the insurance marketplace requires a mix of both young and old, sick and well customers to share the risk and the costs and keep rates reasonable. Take the healthiest people out of the mix and premiums go up dramatically.
Washington state law requires the Insurance Commissioner’s Office to approve any health insurance plan before it can be sold to the public. Kreidler is working on new rules to combat the federal action on short-term plans. He encourages consumers to get involved in the rule-making process. They should also contact their congressional representatives.
Kreidler says the administration’s approach will not help solve the high-cost insurance problem.
“I seriously question the president’s misguided belief that the only way to provide less expensive health insurance is to do so at the expense of those of us unlucky enough to get sick or who have a health condition,” he said.
Kreidler should be commended for keeping this new threat from destabilizing Washington’s successful health insurance market. A record number of people — 242,000 — purchased health insurance through Washington health-plan finderduring the last open enrollment period.