Health and Human Services proposed rule could erode consumer protection and limit access to comprehensive healthcare – and affect Medicare
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a proposed rule that, if put into law, could have a long-term effect on Medicare.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is focused in part on consumer protection and access to comprehensive health coverage by all Americans. The proposed rule ignores these goals.
The proposed rule would increase the availability of short-term, limited-duration healthcare plans. These plans would cost consumers less, but there are downsides. Falling outside of ACA regulations, the plans would not have to guarantee maternity care or mental-health treatment (a hot topic given the recent tragic school shooting).
These plans could charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people. They could refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or for something in their medical history.
What is the Department thinking? Not thinking long-term, obviously.
Where the danger lies for Medicare
If people, in order to save money, buy these short-term, limited duration plans, they may not get coverage needed for health conditions. As they near the age of Medicare enrollment, these conditions, without treatment, may get worse. So, they enter the Medicare system with pre-existing conditions that could have been helped if they had had ACA or other comprehensive coverage.
Conceivably, the Medicare system could be inundated with seniors whose health has been compromised through lack of affordable care. In the long run, this would increase program costs. While this proposed rule may seem to provide a lower-cost solution to many Americans, it could have long-term negative effects on the costs of Medicare for all.
Adhering to the ACA’s goals of ensuring consumer protection and protecting access to comprehensive healthcare coverage should be the guiding principles of any new legislation.