Consumer Reports warns of junk health insurance
March 2, 2012 (WPVI) -- Health reform was supposed to make decent health care coverage available to everyone at a reasonable cost, but the law isn't fully implemented yet, and Consumer Reports says many people are unwittingly signing up for insurance that offers far too little protection.
The health insurance we're talking about is offered through employers, but critics say it barely protects consumers. They even call it JUNK.
Judith Goss was stunned that the health insurance she'd paid for through her retail sales job wouldn't begin to cover her breast cancer treatment, which is expected to cost about $40,000 dollars.
"I cried," said Judith Goss. "My mom was with me, and my uncles offered to pay for a lot of my, you know, my bills and things."
Judith had a so-called mini-med plan from Cigna, which had low premiums, but would only pay up to $2,000 toward her surgery and hospitalization.
"These mini-med plans are offered through jobs. If you are offered one, our advice is not to take it if you have any other option, including public programs like Medicaid," explained Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports.
Cigna tells us: "Connecticut General Life Insurance Company's limited-medical policies are offered to employers with part-time, hourly and seasonal workers not eligible for any other employer-sponsored group health coverage. These programs are not sold as a replacement for major medical coverage and are clearly labeled as providing limited benefits."
Meantime, Consumer Reports says while mini-med plans like Judith's are legal right now, they're supposed to be phased out by 2014.
You can spot them because they carry the warning "does not meet the minimum standards required by the Affordable Care Act."
"Another type of coverage you should avoid is something called a fixed indemnity plan, which is easy to mistake for traditional health insurance," said Metcalf.
Indemnity plans are sometimes marketed to individuals as if they are major medical insurance, and they can cost as much, but don't be deceived.
"Indemnity plans will only pay out a fixed amount every year, no matter how sick you get. And they often don't cover important things like drugs, lab tests, or chemotherapy at all," says Metcalf.
So as Judith found out the hard way, thoroughly read any policy you're considering. A medical crisis can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so pick a plan with enough coverage.
If you can't get traditional major medical insurance through an employer, the federal website Healthcare.gov lists health care plans available to you.Consumer Reports also advises you consult with an independent insurance broker who
represents multiple companies to get advice on the best policy for you.
Read Consumer Reports' complete investigation of junk health insurance here:
consumer reports, health care, consumer news, nydia han
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