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Consumer Alert: HHS Approves Wider Use of “Short-Term” Plans

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that health insurers will be able to sell “short-term” health plans that last up to 36 months. These plans are cheaper but have significantly less benefits than Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. While these plans were available before, they were limited to 3-month coverage periods. Enrollment for 2019 short term plan coverage begins this October.

These short-term plans are not required to include ACA benefits or consumer protections, including: free preventive care, or coverage for pregnancy and mental health. The plans are also exempt from ACA protection limits on out-of-pocket expenses, set dollar limits for coverage, and can reject consumers due to pre-existing conditions.

Short Term Plans and What You Need To Know

These short-term plans, also known as junk plans, typically exclude coverage for critically important health care services; decide premium rates by gender, health status, and age; and put individuals and families at significant financial risk because they do not cover catastrophic events.

For a number of reasons, the wide use of these plans poses a unique threat to Floridians.

Florida has a rapidly growing number of seniors, but many of them are not yet eligible for Social Security or Medicare. Expanding the use of these plans will only hurt seniors’ efforts to find coverage.

Finally, for those able to find initial benefit by enrolling in short term plans - it carries a dangerous gamble. Florida experiences extremely high rates of chronic disease and other health issues like substance use disorders. Many of these plans offer inadequate benefits to actually help these people in a meaningful way when they become ill.

These plans could put millions of patients at risk by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charging incredibly high rates for certain people or specific medical needs, and refusing coverage for necessities like prescription drugs and preventive care.

Please help us protect patients. Send an email now to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and urge them to step in and prevent this rule from taking hold in Florida!

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