The Obama administration is quietly trying to stamp out some of the skimpiest health plans, a decision that industry officials say could trigger yet another wave of cancellation notices.
The administration is targeting a type of coverage called fixed benefit or indemnity insurance, which give patients a fixed sum of money whenever they visit the doctor or land in a hospital.
These plans are less expensive than regular medical insurance because they are less robust. And new federal regulations would make it illegal for insurers to sell these plans as stand-alone insurance coverage. Instead, the Obama administration only wants to allow people to buy fixed-benefit plans as supplemental insurance to a more comprehensive medical plan.
It’s worth being clear that even now a fixed-benefit plan doesn’t satisfy the individual mandate. The new rule would mainly affect people who had chosen to pay the individual mandate, or who were exempt from the mandate, and who bought a fixed-benefit plan as a stopgap. The Obama administration is saying that they can’t do that unless they also buy a more comprehensive plan.