Patient and consumer groups are urging US District Court Judge Richard J. Leon to reconsider changes to short-term limited-duration (STLD) insurance plans that may lead to unaffordable health insurance for many patients across the country, according to a joint statement from the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and others.
According to the joint statement, recent changes to STLD insurance plans could have a “devastating impact” on patients if “bare-bones plans that do not comply with patient protections required by the Affordable Care Act [ACA] are permitted to be sold on the individual insurance market for up to 36 months.” The short-term plans can potentially charge patients or deny them coverage due to their health status. In addition, the plans can be exempt from covering varying essential health services and charge older people more for coverage than younger patients.
Under the plan, destabilization of the insurance market is possible due to a siphoning off of younger, healthier consumers. “Those who need comprehensive coverage will be forced to pay drastically higher premiums or go without insurance,” the joint statement noted. “Splitting the market will drive costs up for those with serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and lung disease who need coverage that includes recommended prevention, treatment and follow-up care.” Patients who are supposed to be protected under the law may in fact experience barriers to coverage that is affordable, which occurred often prior to the passing of the ACA.
“The evidence is clear that individuals who are uninsured and underinsured are diagnosed later and face poorer outcomes,” the groups explained. “Many individuals with short-term, limited-duration insurance who become sick will again be unable to afford the care needed to respond to a life-threatening or life-changing diagnosis, and will be forced to delay treatment for the months it may take to secure adequate coverage. Because of the overwhelming risks to patients and the proven flaws with these plans, we urge the court to issue an injunction immediately stopping the rule and preserving current limits on STLD plans.”
American Heart Association. Patient and Consumer Groups Urge Federal Court to Issue Preliminary Injunction Against Short-Term Insurance Rule [news release] Washington, DC: American Heart Association. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/patient-and-consumer-groups-urge-federal-court-to-issue-preliminary-injunction-against-short-term-insurance-rule. Published October 29, 2018. Accessed November 7, 2018.