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Junk Insurance

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 07/15/17 19:58

by Dave Mindeman

One positive thing that came from the ACA is that insurance policies were required to meet minimum standards. For all the talk about the so-called "catastrophic" plans being the answer to the individual market, they really did not cover much. They came very close to being "junk insurance".

And if the Senate passes the current bill, we will be headed back there once more.

The new version of the bill released on Thursday incorporates an idea from Senator Ted Cruz of Texas that would permit insurers to market all types of plans as long as they offer ones that comply with Affordable Care Act standards. The measure would also allow companies to take into account people's health status in determining whether to insure them and at what price.

State insurance regulators say the proposal harks back to the days when insurance companies, even household names like Aetna and Blue Cross, sold policies so skimpy they could hardly be called coverage at all. Derided as "junk insurance," the plans had very low premiums but often came with five-figure deductibles. Many failed to pay for medical care that is now deemed essential.


From my pharmacist days, I can recount many times when people would bring in their MCHA (Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association)card, which is where people with pre-existing conditions usually got dumped, and had to tell them that their prescriptions weren't covered and would only receive a small discount. These discounts are actually available to anybody through any nationally marketed RX discount card.

Most would walk away disappointed and with a much thinner wallet.

This Senate bill would open that up again - and although Minnesota Republicans will be happy with the talking point that these people "have insurance", they really don't have much of anything. We are back to talking coverage limits, coverage caps, pre-certifications, and no preventative care.

We have ignored these comprehensive benefits of Obamacare and yes, some of the premiums are higher because of this, but the better outcomes are what we are supposed to want to achieve, isn't it?

People who are sick or become sick, need to be protected from the high cost of care. In Minnesota that care is excellent, but the technology and expertise are not cheap. But worse than that would be to be told that none of these things are covered by your insurance - and that your odds of avoiding bankruptcy have just collapsed.

Practically speaking, we need to keep the ACA and fix the 3-5% of the market that needs fixing.

But this Senate bill is one big horror story.
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