Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Consumers should be wary of short-term health plans


Consumers looking for health insurance outside of the annual open enrollment period should be wary of short term health plans. These plans may be marketed as alternatives to Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance, but they could leave you without adequate coverage and facing financial penalties at tax time. 

Originally, short-term health plans were sold as a stop-gap measure until you could get real major medical coverage. After the ACA kicked in, people had many other options for coverage, but these limited plans were still being marketed to consumers as a viable alternative. However, short-term  plans do not count as 'minimum essential coverage' under the ACA - meaning you'll have to pay a tax penalty. They also do not cover the 10 essential health benefits, can limit your annual benefits to $100,000 or less, and deny you coverage for any pre-existing conditions. 

These policies are sold year-round, unlike ACA-plans that must be purchased during the annual open enrollment period, unless you qualify for a special enrollment. Some states allow for coverage to last up to a year and policies can be renewed. This effectively takes people out of the insurance pool that the ACA was designed to expand, leading to increased costs for everyone. 

In an effort to bring the limited short-term health plans back to their original purpose and to protect consumers, the federal government is proposing a regulation to limit the duration of these policies to three months and increase consumer awareness of their limitations.

Insurance Commissioner Kreidler agrees with this effort and sent a letter yesterday in support of the new regulation.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Learn more about Medicare at free event Aug. 6 in Kent

Are you new to Medicare? The Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) will be at the Kent Senior Activity Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6

You will learn about:
  • Medicare parts A, B, C and D
  • Your Medicare benefits and options
  • How to get help paying for Medicare if you qualify
Find registration and parking information for this event.

Other resources:
Do you have Medicare questions? Call 1-800-562-6900.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Breastfeeding and insurance: learn your rights

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, when people from all over the world celebrate breastfeeding. It may surprise you to hear that there’s a connection between breastfeeding and insurance.

The Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to provide breastfeeding and lactation support, equipment and counseling to women during and after pregnancy as long as they are breastfeeding.

  • While insurers must cover breast pumps, plan vary by what type of pump they cover, if they help pay for a rental or purchased pump, and if the pump needs to be pre-authorized. Contact your insurance company to find out what your plan covers. 
  • Insurance plans must also cover lactation support for mothers and babies who are having trouble with breastfeeding or pumping. 

According to womenshealth.gov, babies who are breastfed have lower risks of many health conditions including asthma, ear infections, SIDS, type 2 diabetes and respiratory infections. Breastfeeding also benefits mothers’ health, promotes infant-mother bonding and is more economical than buying formula.

Find more information:


Read more about women’s health insurance rights on our website. Questions? You can contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.