Policies that promote “junk insurance” penalize people with pre-existing conditions. Because such plans are exempt from many important consumer protections, they often do not cover even essential care like prescription drugs and require enormous cost-sharing when patients need access to care. Since these plans provide far fewer benefits, premiums are often lower relative to traditional, comprehensive coverage.
As younger and healthier individuals choose these cheaper products over traditional insurance, premiums can increase significantly for individuals with serious and chronic illnesses who still need comprehensive insurance. There are risks too for the consumers who are able to enroll in a plan that lacks comprehensive coverage: if they fall ill, they may find themselves exposed to extremely high medical costs. And when their coverage ends, they may find that their insurer refuses to renew their plan, potentially leaving those consumers without any coverage at all for an extended period of time.
The patient impact
Recent state and federal proposals have begun chipping away at important patient protections. This could lead to decreased enrollment in traditional coverage and, as a result, increased premiums and cost-sharing for patients who need access to meaningful coverage. These same proposals also create uncertainty for insurers, increasing the likelihood that meaningful coverage becomes unaffordable for the very patients who rely on it for access to care. In short, LLS is concerned about the increased potential for negative impacts to patients’ access to high quality, affordable healthcare.
Strengthening patient protections that promote access, affordability, quality and stability: LLS supports policymakers putting in place new rules that regulate or prohibit ‘junk insurance’ plans—like short-term limited-duration plans or Association Health Plans—that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, offer no meaningful coverage in the case of a cancer diagnosis, or neglect to cover essential healthcare services like prescription drugs.
Pushing for policies that lower premiums for comprehensive health insurance, including reinsurance programs and investments in promoting and facilitating enrollment in health insurance: LLS works to stop policy proposals that would allow insurers to reinstitute lifetime limits, eliminate the current cap on patient cost-sharing, and cover fewer essential services for cancer patients.