Blue Cross Blue Shield: Trump short-term health plans expansion could ‘harm consumers’

Blue Cross Blue Shield: Trump short-term health plans expansion could ‘harm consumers’
© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) on Wednesday warned that the Trump administration's proposal to expand short-term health-care plans could harm patients.

The association's vice president, Justine Handelman, warned that the proposal “has the potential to harm consumers” who don't know the risks of lower-coverage plans.

“Health insurance should be available and affordable for everyone, regardless of their health status. The broader availability and longer duration of slimmed-down policies that do not provide comprehensive coverage has the potential to harm consumers, both by making comprehensive coverage more expensive and by leaving some consumers unaware of the risks of these policies," Handelman said in an emailed statement.

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Handelman went on to warn against a system that allowed "cherry-picking" of coverage options by healthier consumers while those with medical needs were left carrying financial burdens.

“The focus should now be on providing robust protections for consumers, with full disclosure of what’s covered and what is not. Steps also should be taken to prevent cherry-picking that separates the healthiest of customers from those with significant medical needs, raising the cost of comprehensive coverage for all who want the greater security it provides," she said.

The Trump administration on Wednesday finalized rules expanding non-ObamaCare health insurance plans and expanding the short-term health insurance plans so that they can last up to a year, lifting a limit of three months that had been imposed under former President Obama.

Administration officials argue that the rule change would provide an alternative for people who can't afford ObamaCare-compliant plans that cover more health conditions.

BCBSA's statement comes months after the nation's largest trade group of health insurance companies issued a similar statement urging the administration to limit the effects of the rule change.

"We urge the Administration to limit the duration of short-term plans to six months, ensure clear disclosures to consumers about what short term plans do and do not cover, and inform consumers of the potential availability of discounted coverage through the marketplace," said Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, in April.