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Desperate for coverage: Are short-term plans better than none at all?

Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Also not covered are preexisting conditions, defined as anything treated -- or for which a "prudent person" should have sought treatment -- during the previous 12 months to five years, depending on the insurer.

Insurers can also bar coverage for any condition a patient develops after their initial enrollment period, even if they want to sign up again for another term with the same insurer.

Broker Kelly Rector in O'Fallon, Mo., cautions consumers: "Even if they're healthy enough to get on the plan now, but have a heart attack in a month, they won't be able to reapply and will be out of coverage for the rest of the year," until the next ACA open enrollment.

Sold by a wide range of insurers, the plans usually pay a percentage of the cost for medical care, after the policyholder pays a deductible, which can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or more per contract term.

Already, insurers have begun offering plans that seem to anticipate that the Trump administration will restore the ability to hold short-term plans for 364 days.

National General's package, for example, guarantees "eligibility for three more consecutive plans." However, on those packages and similar ones offered by other insurers, the deductible resets every 90 days, so the patient would be on the hook for that amount every three months. That means a $5,000 deductible could grow to $20,000 if the policy were kept for the full year.

 

Premiums vary by insurer and other factors, including age, the deductible and how much coverage the plan provides.

Holtzman says a National General plan for her 46-year-old client, his wife and two children in Georgia with a $2,500 deductible every 90 days would cost $1,348 a month.

That's appealing when compared with his current ACA plan, Holtzman said, for which the premium would be about $1,900 a month next year, with a $3,000 annual deductible.

Still, if the family enrolled in a different ACA plan than his current coverage, the differences narrow.

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