Healthcare

Short-Term Healthcare Plans Leave Many Patients Holding The Bill

A new report from the Democratic Staff Committee has concluded that short-term healthcare plans are “dangerous” and “unregulated,” saying they would leave those who purchased them with thousands of dollars of debt.

The report discusses Short Term Limited Duration Health Insurance (STLDI) plans, which are intended to provide coverage for a limited amount of time while one transitions between insurance plans.

The plans are exempt from all of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions for consumer protection, and while the savings up-front in premiums might be attractive, consumers have often been faced with “significant” out-of-pocket costs when they need health care, the report says.

The STLDI plans are widespread in use, with 2.36 million users recorded in 2018 and 3 million by 2019, the report says. The plans can have durations of up to a year in some cases, but because the plans are not renewable, many customers are then left without insurance in the case that a sudden need for medical help arises.

In addition, STLDI plans routinely don’t cover a number of common medical conditions, including pregnancy, childbirth, prescription drugs, sleep disorders, kidney diseases, AIDS and HIV, skin diseases and much more. The coverage often depends on whether the condition was pre-existing, creating what the report says is a confusing and complicated experience.

Finally, many STLDI insurers rescind the coverage and end up leaving people without coverage, citing health conditions not disclosed when the applicant signed up or other details about when or if a diagnosis was obtained, the report says.

Health care disbursements, like many other types of payments, have been going digital during the pandemic. Long a slow and arduous process relying on paper checks, the process is now turning toward digital means, with quicker electronic ACH payments helping to bridge the gap.

But medicine has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with increased expenses brought on by the strain of COVID-19 patients coming into hospitals, but also declining revenues due to losses from elective procedures not being done while the focus is on the virus.

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