Californians Protected From Junk Health Coverage as Trump Administration’s Harmful Rule Takes Effect

Today marks the first day of the Trump Administration's expanded availability of so-called "short-term" health care plans that leave consumers paying for coverage yet may not actually cover them in times of need.
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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)

CALIFORNIA CONSUMERS PROTECTED FROM JUNK COVERAGE AS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL TAKES EFFECT

  • Today marks the first day of the expanded availability of so-called “short-term” health care plans by the Trump Administration 
  • In California, these substandard plans will be banned starting January 1, 2019 after Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 910 by Senator Hernandez last week
  • So-called “short-term” plans keep consumers trapped in substandard coverage that doesn’t cover essential health benefits, can deny for pre-existing conditions, and may have annual and lifetime limits.

Sacramento, CA – Today marks the first day of the Trump Administration’s expanded availability of so-called “short-term” health care plans that leave consumers paying for coverage yet may not actually cover them in times of need. This “junk” insurance does not comply with important Affordable Care Act consumer protections and can deny people with pre-existing conditions, have annual and lifetime caps on care, don’t cover maternity care, and often do not include coverage for mental health services and/or many prescription drugs. These insurance plans can leave consumers with huge bills if they encounter serious medical conditions. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 910 by Senator Ed Hernandez to protect Californians and ban the sale of such substandard plans in our state. 

“Californians will continue to have comprehensive coverage options because of SB 910. Rest assured, you cannot be declined insurance or charged more because of any preexisting conditions,” said Senator Hernandez, the author of SB 910. “I recommend you go to Covered California to shop for affordable health insurance options and find out if you can qualify for financial help.”

“In other states, insurers that sell these substandard plans will reap large profits by charging people premiums that may seem affordable, but then denying that person the care they may actually need. Thankfully, California consumers will be protected from this junk coverage that leaves people in a lurch when they actually need care,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition and supporter of SB 910. “These junk plans don’t just deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or essential benefits, they destabilize the market by siphoning off younger, healthier people, leaving a smaller, sicker risk pool behind–spiking premiums for the rest of us.”

In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule extending use of “short-term” health insurance plans from the current three month span to a full year, with the option to renew for up to three years, effectively creating a secondary market that can no longer be considered “short-term.” California consumers already have options for affordable short-term health care options in the individual market if they lose their coverage through a job change or other life event. Nearly 90% of those in Covered California receive subsides to help reduce the cost of their premiums. 

“This is an attack on the Affordable Care Act, pure and simple, just so the Trump Administration can allow insurers freer reign to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and essential benefits. But all this does is harm consumers under the guise of giving them substandard coverage,” continued Wright. “California is once again leading the charge against these bad federal policies to make sure our consumers have the best coverage possible.”

Resources:

Health Access: California Actions to Shield Consumers from Trump Sabotage

SB 910 (Hernandez) Fact Sheet: Limiting Junk Insurance: Short Term Insurance Plans

California Health Care Foundation: Short-Term Plans Could Bring Long-Term Risks to California’s Individual Market

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