SOURCE: HealthPocket

HealthPocket

August 10, 2016 09:00 ET

State Insurance Regulators Join in Objections to Consumer Harm Within Proposed Federal Regulation on Short-Term Health Plans

Comment Period Ends With Overwhelming Opposition to Proposed Regulation

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Aug 10, 2016) - With the close of the comment period yesterday, insurance regulators in three states have joined in the chorus of opposition to a newly proposed regulation affecting short-term health insurance. The proposed regulation, which would limit short-term health insurance coverage to less than three months, has drawn criticism from consumers as well as industry groups and HealthPocket.com. Of the 88 comments on the regulation submitted to the federal government and available for public review, only four supported the regulation with the remaining 84 commenters (95% of all responses) voicing objections.

Insurance regulators from the states of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Nebraska have formally submitted their objections to the proposed regulation. Bruce R. Ramge, Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, objected to the rule because of its harm to individuals who cannot afford the health plans created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Short-term health insurance, he argues, "Should not be limited to 90 days. While a short-term medical plan may not be an all-encompassing health insurance policy, it provides some protection for individuals who cannot afford increasingly expensive ACA-compliant coverage."

Similarly, James J. Donelon, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance, argued that a suppression of the short-term health insurance market will make major medical plans no more affordable to those who currently cannot afford them. He also criticized the proposed rule as "A regulatory over-reach that will achieve no strategic policy goals other than to deny consumers choice in the market place."

In the current market, most states allow short-term coverage to last up to 360 days. By limiting short-term insurance policies to less than three months, the proposed regulation would reduce the maximum coverage period by 75% in most states, leaving enrollees with the risk of being uninsured during most of the year outside the ACA's annual enrollment period. Michael Rhoades, Deputy Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Insurance, commented, "This apparent arbitrary limit of policy duration could harm some consumers especially those in employment transition. More often than not transition periods are longer than three months."

Of the state insurance regulators who submitted comments, the Department of Insurance in Pennsylvania was alone in its support of the rule.

The comment period on the proposed regulation ended yesterday but the final form of the regulation, and its effect upon the 30 year-old short-term health insurance market, likely won't be known until October of this year.

For those interested in additional information regarding the proposed regulation and its potential consumer harm, HealthPocket has published a white paper on the topic that can be reviewed at "Major Consumer Harm Hidden in Proposed Short-Term Health Insurance Rule."

HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans, helping individuals, families, and small businesses to make their best health plan decisions. HealthPocket publishes health insurance market analyses and other consumer advocacy research. HealthPocket's research is nonpartisan and uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. HealthPocket, Inc. is independently managed and based in Mountain View, California. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.

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