Debate Emerges on Value of Limited-Benefit Health Plans
Limited-benefit health plans, previously sold only in the individual health insurance market, have become more popular among employers with low-wage or part-time workers and have prompted a "debate about whether such policies provide a false sense of security," USA Today reports.
Limited-benefit health plans, which cost much less than traditional plans, cap annual payouts at levels as low as $1,000, and some cap daily payouts. Currently, about one million of the 160 million U.S. residents who receive health insurance through their employers have limited-benefit plans.
According to USA Today, supporters maintain that limited-benefit health plans "should not be considered the solution to the problem of the uninsured" but "one option to help people get basic medical care," but opponents maintain that "many of the plans leave policyholders more vulnerable to devastating medical bills than they might think."
Meanwhile, health insurers consider limited-benefit health plans a "bright spot for growth in an otherwise stagnant market," USA Today reports.
Health insurers such as Aetna, Cigna, and BlueCross BlueShield, as well as a number of smaller insurers, have begun to offer limited-benefit health plans to employers.
In addition, UnitedHealth Group has begun to offer limited-benefit health plans to college students, and HealthMarkets offers such plans to self-employed individuals.
Most states currently allow limited-benefit health plans, but some have begun to question their legitimacy (Appleby, USA Today, 6/6).