A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that Americans with kidney disease have access to affordable health insurance that covers all of their needs. Currently, not all insurance plans are required to follow the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act. These "junk" health insurance plans include short-term, limited duration (STLD) health plans, health care sharing ministries, and some association health plans (AHPs), all of which are not required to offer preventive services, coverage of essential health benefits or include annual out-of-pocket maximums. Sometimes the consumer is not even aware of the limits until the coverage is needed.
Many of these junk plans use advertising that is misleading to consumers, claiming to be comprehensive or ACA compliant. Additionally, a secret shopper investigation from the Government Accountability Office found that brokers and agents were lying to consumers about what plans covered in order to enroll them in junk plans.
S.1002, the Junk Plans Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2021, seeks to increase the accountability and disclosure requirements for junk health care plans, as well as to ensure that consumers receive more information about their insurance options and what would be considered comprehensive health insurance coverage. This bill would do this in the following ways:Increasing Federal Trade Commission oversight with regards to false or misleading online advertisements; Creating warning and disclosure requirements for junk health care plans to ensure that consumers are aware that they are not signing up for comprehensive coverage; Providing additional funding for open enrollment outreach and education to inform consumers about enrolling in ACA plans and finding the right coverage for their health care needs.
It is critically important that consumers are fully informed about what health insurance plans they are enrolled in and what those health insurance plans cover. Please contact your Senators today and ask them to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.