Speaking of "Freedom Life" and Short-Term Health Plans...
Thanks to Richard Mayhew of Balloon Juice for bringing this to my attention: This morning, Sabrina Corlette and JoAnn Volk of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms posted an amusing but also highly educational real-world example of the sort of non-ACA compliant healthcare plans that outfits like "Freedom Life" (aka "National Foundation" aka "Enterprise Life" aka "USHealth") specialize in...which also happen to be the exact types of plans that HHS is trying to keep a lid on with their recently-announced policy change.
The broker called JoAnn’s cell phone just as she was trying to leave the office for the day. But when she heard the pitch, she couldn’t resist staying on the line and finding out just what, exactly, this guy was selling. He was calling from the “National Health Enrollment Center” and he wanted JoAnn to buy a short-term health plan, available from up to 37 different insurance companies.
“Wow,” JoAnn said, playing dumb. “Is this like an ‘Obamacare’ plan? I won’t have to pay a tax penalty for not having insurance?”
“Don’t worry about that,” he said, “You won’t have to pay a penalty – there are ways not to be fined.”
“This is a bridge plan, for month-to-month coverage.” he said, “Since you can’t sign up for an Obamacare plan until November. This will get you covered when you’ve just lost your job-based insurance, or COBRA, or moved to a new area.”
All of these events of course would trigger a special enrollment period (SEP) for an ACA-compliant, “Obamacare” plan.
But JoAnn, again playing the innocent, just asked about the benefits under the plan. No, it did not cover maternity services, pediatric dental benefits or mental health, all services “above what you need,” the broker told her. After covering 4 annual doctors’ visits, the plan would only cover 30 percent of any additional visits.
“Gee,” JoAnn said, “this sounds really interesting, but I’m not sure I totally understand how the benefits work. Do you have a description you could send me in writing?”
“I’m sorry,” the broker told her, “Obamacare prohibits me from sending you anything in writing.”
Uh huh. It’s not surprising that the National Health Enrollment Center has been the subject of hundreds of consumer complaints to the Better Business Bureau. And why JoAnn will be filing a complaint of her own.
Read the whole thing. This is a strong example of exactly why the HHS Dept. is cracking down on exactly this sort of business practice in the health insurance market.