March 6, 2018
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced his intention today to begin rule-making to create protections for Washington consumers who buy short-term medical plans. He is taking this action in response to the recent rules the Trump administration proposed to increase the duration of short-term medical plans from 90 days to up to 364 days.
In a statement last week, Kreidler shared his concerns about short-term medical plans:
“Allowing short-term medical plans to infiltrate our health insurance markets is not the panacea the Trump Administration promises. It’s just one more devastating step in dismantling the consumer protections we’ve come to rely on. Short-term medical plans may sound good to those who do not understand how health insurance works. The promise of lower premiums and fewer mandatory benefits may be appealing, but here’s what’s left in the small print – they also offer little protection if you get sick and need comprehensive care.”
Under state law (www.leg.wa.gov), short-term medical plans are exempt from the definition of a health plan and only can be sold if approved by the insurance commissioner. Kreidler intends to use the rule-making process to set perimeters for this type of coverage to ensure that consumers are protected and Washington’s individual health insurance market is not undermined.
Currently, short-term medical plans are exempt from protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. These plans can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, are not required to include essential health benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health services, and maternity, and they can cap lifetime limits.
Kreidler encourages consumers and other stakeholders to participate in the rule-making process, which begins today and will continue over the next several months.
“I seriously question the president’s misguided belief that the only way to provide less expensive health insurance is to do so at the expense of those of us unlucky enough to get sick or who have a health condition,” Kreidler said. “I will use my authority to prevent these skinny plans from destabilizing Washington’s health insurance market.”