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AARP Backs Proposal to Limit ‘Junk’ Health Insurance Plans

En español | AARP is urging federal officials to set stricter limits on short-term health insurance plans — also known as “skinny” or “junk” plans — which offer limited medical coverage and lack consumer protections that are required of other health plans.

We submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this month in support of a federal proposal that would restore previous three-month limits on such plans, with an option to extend coverage for an additional month. AARP also supports a proposal that would require insurers to notify consumers about the limitations of short-term plans.

Originally intended to fill short-term gaps in coverage, such as when someone loses a job, the plans have instead been marketed as cheaper alternatives to comprehensive medical insurance. Since 2018, insurers have been allowed to offer such plans for as long as three years.

Not only do these plans fail to cover basic medical services most people need, but they lack critical consumer protections required of other health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, we wrote in our comments. For example, insurers offering short-term plans do not need to cover people for their preexisting conditions and may charge older adults significantly higher premiums than younger enrollees.

“Short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans are not comprehensive medical coverage and were never intended to be utilized as such,” wrote David Certner, AARP legislative counsel and legislative policy director. He noted that the proliferation of these plans “can create confusion for consumers” who are shopping for health insurance.

Read our comments to CMS and keep up with our health care coverage.

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