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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Junk Plans Chip Away at Pre-Existing Condition Protections, Hike Premiums

Today, the Senate Republicans rejected a resolution of disapproval to rescind the Trump administration’s rule expanding junk plans. Junk plans—or short-term, limited duration plans—allow insurance companies to sell lower-value plans and skirt nearly all federal consumer protections.

Critically, junk plans are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. As many as 134 million Americans—over half of all nonelderly adults—have pre-existing conditions and used to be charged higher premiums or sold coverage that excluded services related to their conditions. Additionally, a recent study found that of those plans surveyed, most of these plans fail to cover substance use disorder treatment or prescription drugs, and none cover maternity care.

Junk plans also destabilize health care markets by diverting potential enrollees from the individual market, decreasing enrollment and hiking premiums. One early analysis found over 2 million Americans would not have comprehensive coverage in 2019 due to junk plans. When combined with the Republican repeal of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), premiums would go up 16 percent nationwide.

Since that analysis, the number of states that have acted to protect their residents by limiting junk plans has climbed to 20 states. However, without federal action, junk plans are likely to still have a major impact on Americans’ health care coverage and costs. Today, Senate Republicans missed an opportunity to reverse this damaging policy to protect people with preexisting conditions and prevent further premium increases.