Wallis Morris: Short-term health care plans short on coverage | SteamboatToday.com

Wallis Morris: Short-term health care plans short on coverage

The individual marketplace for health insurance is both unstable and confusing. While unable to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Congressional leadership is taking it apart piecemeal and leaving those of us who are self-employed or do not have health insurance through our employer to sift through a giant mess.

Late last year, Congress repealed the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, the requirement that individuals have minimum essential health coverage or face a tax penalty. In addition, President Trump issued an executive order in 2017 directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to expand the availability of short-term health insurance policies.

While initially well-intentioned to provide short-term health insurance for individuals with a brief lapse in coverage due to job loss etc., short-term health insurance policies are now being marketed as a new, more affordable alternative to traditional health insurance plans.

Buyer beware, these policies are essentially unregulated and are not required to cover the essential health benefits mandated by the ACA.

Life is unpredictable. Health is unpredictable.

As a new mother, I first think about the woman, who feels trapped by her current health care offerings, and decides to purchase one of these plans. She gets pregnant and realizes her maternity care isn’t covered including labor and delivery, which costs anywhere from $9,000 plus for a regular delivery to $24,652 for an uncomplicated C-section at our local hospital. Imagine the burden, both mentally and financially, for a family that has to pay upwards of $25,000 for medical care because it isn’t covered by their health insurance.

Lack of coverage for maternity care is just one example of limited coverage with these policies. I could replace pregnancy with mental health, sudden illness, pre-existing conditions and prescription drugs. Short-term plans often exclude all of these as well as place spending caps for coverage.

The current changes to health care legislation and new offerings from the Trump Administration do nothing to improve the health of Americans. They do nothing to reduce the cost of health care because they do not provide access to adequate health care.

However you feel about President Obama and the ACA, recognize that these policies put in place by our Republican leadership are detrimental to the health of Coloradans.

Please remember this when you vote in the mid-term elections coming up in November. We need to vote out members of Congress who will not stand up to the current agenda and vote in new representatives who will legislate in a way that improves the health of Americans and our access to affordable health care.

Wallis Morris

Steamboat Springs

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