Popularity of Limited Health Plans Increases as Health Care Costs Rise
With rising health costs, "mini-medical" or "limited-benefit" plans that cover only routine physician visits and offer little to no coverage for hospitalization or emergency care have become popular options for some U.S. companies as an alternative to more comprehensive plans, the Wall Street Journal reports. Typically, the plans cover four to 10 physician visits annually, as well as a portion of prescription drugs and lab work and have premiums around $40 a month and annual coverage caps of $10,000 or less, the Journal reports.
Approximately one million people have the plans, and carriers selling the plans say their business is growing 20% annually. Employers offering the plans include General Electric and Sears Holdings.
Health insurance companies including Aetna and WellPoint are developing or expanding their limited plans to reflect the growing popularity.
Robert Fahlman -- chief operating officer for eHealthInsurance, an online insurance broker-- said, "People have to be aware this isn't providing them the key purpose of health insurance, and that's protection from catastrophic or chronic disease." EHealthInsurance no longer offers limited benefits plans because they confused customers and were not popular, according to Fahlman.
David Sherman -- president of Preferred Business Solutions, an employee benefit management firm in New Jersey -- said, "If the alternative is nothing, then something is better than that" (Fuhrmans, Wall Street Journal, 1/17).