Los Angeles Times Examines Popularity of Limited-Benefit Health Plans
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined the increased popularity of limited-benefit health plans. More than 20 national employers -- such as Intel, IBM and Sears -- plan to begin offering such plans later this year.
Many of the plans -- which have monthly premiums of about $50 to $100 for individuals and $200 for families -- cover physician visits and some prescription drugs but not catastrophic care, mental health treatment or hospital visits. In addition, the plans have annual coverage caps that range from $1,000 to $20,000. In most cases, the plans accept applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions, and premiums remain the same regardless of a member's age, gender or place of residence.
However, opponents maintain that the plans provide a "false sense of security" and "might not always be worth the cost" for individuals with high medical expenses, the Times reports. According to opponents, the plans also might "skew the notion of just what it means to have health insurance," encourage employers that offer health coverage to "move to the skimpier plans" or affect the ability of members to apply for more comprehensive health plans in the future, the Times reports.
Jonathan Parker, national campaign director for Americans for Health Care, said, "People could say these folks are technically insured, but that doesn't mean much. People would still be crippled if they get sick."
Jonathan Edelheit, president of United Group Programs, said, "No one is going to say these are better than full coverage, but it's a step up for people who otherwise wouldn't have insurance."
Lisa McGiffert, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, said, "Let's say exactly what this is about. Medical coverage is getting more limited every day, and people are paying higher health premiums for little in return" (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 6/6).