Short-term plans lead to long-term risks

Short term limited duration (STLD) plans might be cheaper than traditional policies but come with the price of limited benefits. This is bad news for people who are diagnosed with certain illnesses and can be either charged more out-of-pocket or denied coverage altogether. The Trump Administration is expected to produce plans that will expand these policies, hurting many Americans in the process. On top of that, as Kaiser Family Foundation puts it, “[STLD insurance] does not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections, such as the requirement to provide coverage of essential health services or the prohibition against denying coverage to sick people or charging them higher premiums.”

While this threat looms over Americans nationwide, states are taking matters into their own hands. A bill to protect Illinoisans from the the long-term risks of short-term plans is currently waiting for Gov. Rauner’s signature. Legal Council and the Protect Our Care IL coalition urge you to contact the Governor and ask him to sign HB 2624.

The effect of STLD policies’ stretches across many individuals who are struggling to stay health and receive the care they need. In the cross-sectional work Legal Council does, we know how these plans will affect the demographics we serve.

HIV

Under STLD plans, HIV would qualify as a pre-existing condition, and those living with HIV will face significant barriers and complications in seeking help. Care and services may not be required to be covered, and individuals could face benefit limitations and denial to prescription drugs along with high out of pocket costs.

Mental health

Similar problems can be seen for those struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse. Unlike what is permitted under ACA compliant plans, limitations are still part of the experience of getting covered. The current climate of “rising drug prices, the opioid epidemic, and mental health awareness” means right now is the worst time for those searching for coverage. Individuals with these conditions could be denied coverage for prescription drugs, mental health care, and preventive care.

Children & Education

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, not a single STLD health insurance plan available in Chicago covers maternity care. For others, even if a plan offers coverage, it comes with strict limitations. For families, these plans clearly do more harm than good. Some barriers include:

  • Women who are pregnant will not be covered for prenatal care, labor, and delivery
  • Families with children struggling with asthma or allergies will have to pay for any complications, preventive care, or prescriptions out of their own pockets.

The negative impact of these short-term plans are colossal for the millions of Illinoisans with conditions deniable under this coverage. Individuals with a short-term insurance plan would have anywhere from $250 to $22,500 in out of pocket costs a year, and the coverage cap would be between $250,000 to $2 million.

The good news is that the Illinois legislature passed HB2624, the Short Term Limited Duration Coverage Act, which would establish a maximum duration for short-term plans. This bill is currently sitting at Gov. Rauner desk, waiting for his signature. You can help protect the care of millions of Illinoisans by calling the Governor and urging him to sign this bill. Without this protection, Illinoisans face long-term risks of poor health and massive debt. Call the Governor TODAY and join the fight for health justice in Illinois.

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