Proposed Extension of Short-Term Health Plans Could Mean a Roll Back of Critical Patient Protections
Plans Would Allow for Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions and Benefit Caps
Washington, D.C.—As directed by the president’s executive order, the Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule today allowing temporary short-term catastrophic health insurance plans to be sold for as long as 364 days, and with the potential to be extended indefinitely. Currently, such plans can be purchased for no more than 90 days.
A statement from Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
“Allowing the indefinite renewability of short-term catastrophic plans—together with the recently released association health plan rule—threatens to split the individual insurance market. Young and healthy people could be tempted to purchase these low-premium plans with few benefits, while older and sicker people, like cancer patients, seeking more comprehensive health coverage could potentially be left struggling with rising premiums because of the market divide.
“Short-term plans can deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, often cover very few benefits and can set caps on what limited benefits are provided. While these exemptions make these policies inexpensive, they also create plans with potentially inadequate coverage. Short-term plans are meant to be a bridge, not a substitute, for long-term meaningful coverage. Permitting plans to be renewed indefinitely would likely result in more people struggling with unexpected health care bills and insufficient insurance.
“ACS CAN will continue to make clear the risks to patients and survivors of a divided and potentially problematic insurance market and urges Congress to find bipartisan ways to stabilize the market so cancer patients and survivors don’t face an undue financial burden .”