“Junk” health insurance plans mislead consumers, lead to massive bills

The health insurance industry is rife with companies lying about their less than desirable plans at a very affordable price. These plans have always existed and have been purchased by millions of Americans.

ProPublica Reporter Jenny Deam focuses on health insurance and recently wrote a story about a young man who became swamped with bills following a routine procedure. She joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss “junk” health insurance plans, what has been done to curb their purchase and more.

“Junk” health insurance plans

Deam explained “junk” health insurance plans have been around for decades and are a short term health insurance plan, which is cheap and does not cover many items covered by regular health insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, required plans to cover a number of elements such as maternity care, prescription drugs and more. The purpose of requiring these provisions was to cover pre-existing conditions. These plans remained available, despite being noncompliant with the ACA.

Holders of these plans faced a penalty for not having robust coverage. Republicans tried to eliminate Obamacare legislatively, ultimately being defeated by the late Sen. John McCain’s famous thumbs down. They would later repeal the individual mandate by attaching the repeal to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Victims of “junk” health insurance

Deam told the story of a man who was a victim of a “junk” health insurance plan. After a two year stint in the Peace Corps, the man needed insurance for a year before attending graduate school.

After purchasing one of these plans the man became ill and needed a routine procedure, one that he thought was covered by his plan. After being billed $41,000 for the procedure, his plan only covered up to $2,500.

ProPublica contacted the insurance provider, who then paid the bill. The hospital where he got the procedure waived the remaining $800 balance. However, there are many of these stories that receive little attention.


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