Federal Officials Clarify Conditions for Low-Cost Health Insurance Plans
On Thursday, HHS outlined the only circumstances under which insurers can offer limited health plans, also known as "mini-med" plans, and mandated that warnings must accompany the plans saying they do not meet new minimum coverage standards under the federal health reform law, CQ HealthBeat reports.
In September, HHS began granting waivers for companies and groups that offer their employees such plans, exempting them for one year from a provision in the federal health reform law that prohibits caps on health benefits. As of Dec. 7, HHS has granted 222 waivers for entities that offer health coverage to more than 1.5 million U.S. residents.
The agency has become concerned that the waivers will prompt insurers to keep offering limited coverage until the plans are outlawed in 2014 under the overhaul. As a result, the agency issued guidance saying the plans could be sold only when:
- A state that has received an HHS waiver requires insurers to offer coverage with low annual limits; or
- An employer with a waiver wants to change insurers and still offer the plans.
In addition, HHS said insurers have to provide information in "14-point bold type" on the front of materials sent to enrollees saying that the plans do not meet coverage standards set by the reform law.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent letters to consumer groups informing them of the new notice requirements. The agency also stressed that the waivers expire after one year (Bunis, CQ HealthBeat, 12/9).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.