The details can be confusing, partly because federal law allows group health plans -- generally those offered by large employers -- to provide workers with self-funded, minimal coverage plans like those offered by Apex, Bianchi said.
Apex's Shull recently said in an email that the firm simply wants to offer coverage to people who otherwise could not afford an ACA plan.
"There will be states that want to halt this. Why, I do not understand," he wrote. "Would an individual be better off going without anything? If they need prescriptions, lab or imaging services subject to a small copay, would you want to be the one to deny them?"
Some consumers might find the price attractive, but also find themselves vulnerable to unexpected costs, including the tax liability.
Harper, the broker who signed up for one of the plans, remains confident: "As long as Xpress satisfies the (mandate), which I'm told it does, my clients are in good hands. Even if it doesn't, I don't think it's a big deal. You are saving that (the tax penalty amount) a month."
(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)
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