Open Enrollment Warning: Short-Term Health Insurance Plans May Hurt You in the End

In efforts to keep the cancer and health care community up to date on the latest happenings, we come to you today with a warning:

If you are shopping for health insurance on the Marketplace – BEWARE of short-term health insurance plans!

Short-term health insurance plans are plans that only provide coverage for a certain period of time, less than a year. These kinds of plans were only intended to provide coverage for people who were between jobs or needed temporary coverage for other reasons.

Unfortunately, this year, the current administration has made changes to www.HealthCare.gov (the health insurance Marketplace used by 36 states), which are pushing consumers to use private brokers as they’re signing up for coverage.

When you search for Marketplace plans, which are supposed to comply with the ACA’s consumer protections, there is now a tab for short-term health insurance plans and a phone number to call an insurance broker to buy one of these plans.

What does this mean? People may end up accidentally buying short-term plans, often referred to as “junk insurance,” because their lower monthly premiums make them attractive to consumers.

The problem is that these plans are not required to comply with the ACA’s consumer protections, which means that they can deny people with pre-existing conditions, can require people to complete medical questionnaires on the application, can charge people more because of an individual’s health history, and do not have to cover essential health benefits.

For example, a plan could exclude whole categories of care like mental health care, preventive care, substance abuse treatment, or maternity care. They also are not required to have an out-of-pocket maximum, which means that people with serious medical conditions like a cancer, will pay significantly more for their medical expenses.

As patient advocates, we’re spreading the word about the potential dangers of short-term health insurance plans.

While they may be a good option for some people, we want everyone to be aware of what they are buying, so you are not caught without the health insurance coverage you need, now or in the future.

You can find more information on our cancer Health Insurance Resources page. Need help picking a health insurance plans? Our animated videos can help.

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