By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
NEW YORK, NY—(PNS)—A new health insurance rule is being called another blow to people with pre-existing conditions. On Wednesday, the Trump administration released a new rule that allows insurance companies to expand the sale of short-term insurance plans that don’t cover the health benefits deemed “essential” by the Affordable Care Act.
Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives with the group Families USA, said the plans, originally restricted to just three months of coverage, will be expanded to one day short of a year, with options for renewal. She added the fine print is loaded with exclusions.
“People have bought plans like this in the past and then found out that they literally covered nothing for the condition that they thought they were covered for,” Fish-Parcham said.
AUDIO NEWS WRAPPER REPORT
Hear Fish-Parcham discuss the shortcomings of short-term health insurance plans in this audio news wrapper report with correspondent Steve Lubetkin.
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The administration has said expanding the availability of short-term plans will give consumers more options for purchasing health insurance. The rule will go into effect in October.
But Fish-Parcham said allowing insurers to deny coverage for things like prenatal care, mental health and pre-existing conditions will potentially short-change those who buy the plans, while raising premium costs for everyone else.
“It can lead to medical bankruptcies, it can lead to market instability,” she said. “Consumers will doubtless be very confused when they look at these policies and don’t understand what they are.”
She said the rule will also allow insurers to cancel policies retroactively for a pre-existing condition, even if people didn’t know they had that condition at the time they signed up.
Fish-Parcham noted the rule change was opposed by almost all healthcare provider and consumer groups.
“Hospitals and clinics are very concerned about the rise in uncompensated care that they might face,” Fish-Parcham said. “People buy these plans and then they don’t cover the person’s hospitalization. That’s a problem both for the consumer and for the hospital.”
She said it will be up to the states to protect consumers from what critics are calling “junk” healthcare plans. New York currently prohibits short-term plans.
Steve Lubetkin is the news director for StateBroadcastNews.com. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations. He refocused on multimedia journalism and podcast production after a long career in corporate branded journalism and public relations.
He has won numerous awards for his audio and video news reporting from the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced a wide range of audio and video podcasts in his other role as managing partner of State Broadcast News’s parent, The Lubetkin Media Companies.
Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional.
In March 2021, he was elected to the board of directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in July 2021 he was named secretary of the chapter. In August 2021, he was honored by SPJ with one of the organization’s 2021 Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Awards, given to regular members of an SPJ chapter who go above and beyond in serving their chapter.
Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996.
Steve also has reported on-camera and produces virtual conferences for NJSpotlightNews.org, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC.
From May-November 2019, he produced and reported a weekly podcast, The CRE News Hour, a news and features program focusing on the commercial real estate industry.
From 2014 to 2019 he was New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com and filled in covering Chicago/Midwest and Atlanta.
Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies.
Earlier in his career, Steve reported on rock music at the Jersey Shore for the Asbury Park Press, and was a broadcast news anchor and production engineer for WJLK-AM & FM, then owned by the Press. He also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Red Bank Register, Shrewsbury, NJ.
You can email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.