Proposed copper plans come under scrutiny


Although some insurers and lawmakers would like to add a new level of plans to the federal health insurance exchange, called copper plans, some healthcare experts and consumer advocates remain wary of their benefits, reported Kaiser Health News.

America's Health Insurance Plans proposed the inclusion of copper plans, which would feature lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, to help motivate more uninsured individuals to sign up for health coverage, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. The plans also would pay on average 50 percent of covered expenses and be eligible for premium tax credits. 

"It's a false promise of affordability," Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms, told KHN. "If you ever have to use the plan, you won't be able to afford it."

Moreover, some industry experts don't think the catastrophic-style plans will attract consumers, particularly since the current low-cost bronze plans weren't popular during the first enrollment period. Only 20 percent of consumers who signed up for marketplace plans purchased bronze plans, and only 2 percent bought catastrophic policies.

"I don't think people will necessarily be satisfied with a policy with a cheap premium that doesn't really pay for much," Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told KHN.

But AHIP, which proposed the idea of copper plans along with Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Warner of Virginia, believes consumers want more affordable options. Indeed, an Enroll America survey found that about half of uninsured Americans who did not enroll in an exchange plan said costs were too high.

"Plans do considerable outreach, and they're hearing that affordability is a top priority for consumers," said AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni. "This is about access. It's about how do we give people the opportunity to get into the market."

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article

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