Democrats warn against 'junk plans' as open enrollment deadline nears
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The deadline to buy health care through the federal exchange is this Sunday, December 15.
For Democrats on Capitol Hill, keeping Americans aware of so-called “junk plans” is a top priority.
The primary option to obtain health care coverage is through the federal insurance marketplace at healthcare.gov. However, similarly-named websites have popped up, leading consumers to third-party vendors and not traditional insurance companies and plans, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). Those vendors offer plans that do qualify as health coverage, but often times do not cover pre-existing conditions – a mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
The third-term Democrat says the Trump administration has been pushing those plans on the federal exchange.
“Sometimes we’ve had instances where people are misled because they go to the wrong website or because they obtain information that ends up not being accurate,” Casey said.
The Trump administration has rolled back the requirement for Americans to purchase health insurance, the so-called ‘individual mandate.’ Essentially, that means having coverage is no longer a requirement.
GOP lawmakers and the administration argues what Democrats call “junk plans” are simply a cheaper alternative for short-term health care.
To find out which plan is right for you, the federal government has certified marketplace navigators ready to help. We spoke with a volunteer navigator, Michelle Robertson, by phone Wednesday. She has been a navigator in the Erie, Pennsylvania area since 2013.
“They seem a little bit cheaper,” Robertson said of the low-end plans. “But if they really don’t cover anything, they are not cheaper at all. So, I really caution people to know what they are doing.”
You can find more information about the plans in your area at healthcare.gov. In New York, another option is the state exchange.