Health care: Open enrollment vs. short-term insurance

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) In 2017 a special enrollment event took place at the Reno Sparks Convention Center. It was a central location, where local residents who were underinsured or had no insurance could sign up for coverage which had Affordable Care Act requirements.

Those include coverage of pre-existing conditions and other medical conditions.

The insurance was not cheap, but oftentimes the enrollees could qualify for subsidies or federal tax credits.

But there's another kind of insurance called Short-Term Limited Duration Insurance.

Some of these plans go by another name.

“Junk plans,” is what U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) calls them. The plans are designed as a temporary fix to get a person through a drop in coverage which lasts only a couple of months. But recently the Trump Administration rolled out new rules allowing for these plans to last 12 months.

The plans don't have to cover pre-existing conditions, maternity care or other coverage mandated by the ACA.
That's why they are so inexpensive. But they are called short-term for a reason. They cover a patient for months only.

There can be other problems. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) pointed out a plan in her state would not cover emergency care on Fridays and Saturdays.

“This isn't coverage they are going to necessarily have in times of need. Particularly if you have a pre-existing condition,” says Senator Cortez-Masto.

Nevada allows these plans to only cover a resident here for no more than 6 months. But consider this:

“We kind of suspect that the younger, healthier individual, that whole population, they will opt to forego health insurance,” says Janel Davis with Nevada’s Silver State Health Exchange.

That age group may in fact be attracted to the Short-Term Insurance Plans, removing themselves from the pool where older patients and those with pre-existing conditions remain---which ultimately means higher insurance costs for those in that pool.

That has not happened yet; as a matter of fact, Davis says, plans on average are slightly lower this year for health insurance through Healthlink.
If you consider the short-term limited duration plans experts say read the fine print.