RULE COULD RESULT IN COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE FOR PATIENTS BECOMING UNAFFORDABLE; LEAVE MANY UNCOVERED
Patient groups representing millions of Americans with serious health conditions filed an amicus curiae (or friend-of-the-court) brief today in the U.S. District Court case, Association for Community Affiliated Plans v. United States, explaining the devastating impact patients could face under the final rule implementing changes to short-term, limited duration (STLD) insurance plans.
The groups, which include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Global Healthy Living Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and National Multiple Sclerosis Society, argue the rule effectively allows STLD plans to serve as replacements for comprehensive coverage in violation of current law.
The brief argues that allowing expanded access to these plans will destabilize the insurance market by attracting younger and healthier people to these lower cost barebones plans while forcing those who need comprehensive coverage to pay more in premiums or be unable to obtain insurance entirely.
A statement from the groups follows:
“The rule threatens to split and weaken the individual insurance market, which has provided millions of previously uninsured people with access to quality coverage since the health care law went into effect. People with serious illnesses need comprehensive coverage, but short-term plans could force them to pay increasingly higher premiums or forego coverage altogether as insurers raise rates or leave the market entirely – a common problem prior to 2014.
“Increases in premiums and decreases in availability of comprehensive plans will fall particularly hard on those with significant medical needs. Because issuers of short-term plans are empowered to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions, such individuals will remain reliant on their ability to secure ACA-compliant plans.
“Moreover, many individuals with short-term, limited-duration insurance who become sick will be unable to afford the care needed to respond to a life-threatening diagnosis, and will be forced to delay treatment for the months it may take to secure adequate coverage. Without coverage when they need it most, people with serious illnesses could face serious financial hardship and potential bankruptcy paying for their care.
“Well-documented research has shown uninsured and underinsured Americans with heart disease and stroke experience higher mortality rates, poorer blood pressure control, greater neurological impairments and longer hospital stays after a stroke. Uninsured patients are less likely to be screened for cancer and more likely to be diagnosed with later stage disease, which is harder to survive and costlier to treat.
“Because of the overwhelming risks to patients and the proven flaws with these plans, the groups urge the court to issue an injunction stopping the rule and preserving current limits on STLD plans.”
To read the full brief visit: https://bit.ly/2OPxz9k