Are mini-med plans too limited?

Dr. Maura Shea examines patient Michelo Cineas at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, Mass.


JEREMY HOBSON: Today in Washington, a Senate committee will look into bare-bones health insurance policies that cover nearly a million and a half workers around the country. They're called mini-med plans and they offer limited coverage. Today, Senators will be asking whether that coverage is too limited.

Our Washington Bureau Chief John Dimsdale has the story.

John Dimsdale: Mini-med plans are usually offered by companies that pay low wages. They cover a limited number of doctor visits, or cap maximum pay-outs anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 a year. Stephen Finan of the American Cancer Society says mini-med plans are inadequate.

Stephen Finan: They're junk plans. But they have the pretense of being real insurance when they're not.

But employers who buy mini-med plans say they're not supposed to be comprehensive. They're a cheap alternative. And Devon Herrick at the National Center for Policy Analysis says many low wage workers prefer limited annual pay-outs to high deductible plans. Those plans only cover catastrophic illnesses.

Devon Herrick: A lot of your moderate income workers didn't really like those because those didn't offer quick access to day-to-day medical care.

Mini-med plans will disappear when health reform kicks in in 2014. In the meantime, Congress is considering raising their minimum coverage even earlier.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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