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Trump’s Plan for Cheaper Health Insurance Could Have Hidden Costs

Mr. Trump announced a major initiative last week to reduce consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. But a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that many short-term insurance plans do not cover prescription drugs outside the hospital, leaving consumers to pay the bills.

Short-term insurance policies were originally intended for people who were between jobs or needed temporary coverage for other reasons. Under the proposed rule, they could play a larger role.

“There is nothing in the proposed rule that would prevent companies from underwriting and issuing new policies to individuals at the end of the one-year coverage term,” Mr. Spitalnic said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the most popular type of marketplace plans, so-called silver plans, cover 70 percent of health care costs for a typical population. By contrast, Mr. Spitalnic said, the new short-term plans would cover 50 percent of costs, on average.

Short-term plans can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions and can omit some benefits deemed essential in the Affordable Care Act.

Thus, for example, some short-term plans offered by UnitedHealth Group do not provide prescription drug coverage and do not pay expenses related to a normal pregnancy or the treatment of mental disorders, according to a brochure from the company.

Another insurer, National General, says in a brochure that its short-term medical plans may not cover outpatient prescription drugs, normal pregnancy or childbirth, routine well-baby care or costs resulting from a pre-existing condition.

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