Effectiveness of High Deductible ‘Copper’ Plans Under Scrutiny
Patient advocates and some health care policy experts are concerned that certain low-premium, high-deductible plans proposed by several lawmakers and an insurer group will expose consumers to unaffordable health care costs if they get sick, the Washington Post reports (Andrews, Washington Post, 6/30).
A group of senators -- led by Mark Begich (D-Ala.) -- have proposed a measure (S 1729) that would add a high-deductible, "copper" plan to the platinum, gold, silver and bronze plans already available through the law's exchanges (Andrews, Washington Post, 6/30). Similarly, America's Health Insurance Plans has proposed offering "bare-bones," catastrophic coverage plans on the exchanges to attract young adults (California Healthline, 6/11).
According to the Post, the proposals indicate that a copper-level plan would cover about 50% of beneficiaries' health care expenses and be eligible for tax subsidies designed to offset the cost of premiums.
AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said that insurers' research suggests that "affordability is a top priority for consumers," which means that the lower-premium plans would likely "give people the opportunity to get into the market."
However, Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said that the plans offer "a false promise of affordability" because if "you ever have to use the plan, you won't be able to afford it."
Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "I don't think people will necessarily be satisfied with a policy with a cheap premium that doesn't really pay for much." He added that such plans would like have a deductible of roughly $9,000 per person on the individual market (Washington Post, 6/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.