Trump's New "Short-term Plans": Buyer Beware of Swiss Cheese Plans with More Holes Than Coverage
West Virginians often move on and off Medicaid eligibility as they struggle to move forward financially. For example, someone with a part-time job might see their hours fluctuate and this can change whether they are income eligible for Medicaid. Many West Virginians who rely on Medicaid during hard times find that they transition off Medicaid when their income is restored or goes up – even if they don’t have a job with health insurance benefits. For these West Virginians, shopping for health insurance is a daunting task. And unfortunately, as we wrote in yesterday’s blog, the Trump Administration has slashed funding for health insurance navigators who help people understand their health insurance choices.
Now to make the task even more challenging, the Trump Administration has issued a new rule that allows so-called “short-term plans” to be sold. These plans do not have any of the consumer protections that are part of the Affordable Care Act. There are no required basic benefits (such as prescription drugs, mental health services, rehabilitation services) and they can charge people with pre-existing conditions more and include “riders” that exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. They can penalize older people and sicker people (or people who they deem might get sick) with high premiums and copays.
So please buyer beware! These plans could mean you pay premiums for the privilege of being uninsured. These plans are really “swiss cheese plans” – more holes than coverage and they melt away when you get sick and need them the most. And remember, read the fine print. Lower premiums are attractive – but you may end up paying more later out of your own pocket.