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Should Obamacare Include A Catastrophic Plan Option?

A top insurance trade group is pushing the Obama administration to approve a new catastrophic plan, which they believe would help stabilize premiums.

Currently, individuals and families are not eligible to use subsidies to purchase catastrophic plans.

Photo: healthcare.gov

Currently, individuals and families are not eligible to use subsidies to purchase catastrophic plans.

Insurance industry officials say Obamacare needs to include a subsidy for low premium catastrophic coverage.

The proposal was one of a handful the main industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), announced Wednesday in Washington. They say including an option for bare bones coverage on the Affordable Care Act health exchanges is necessary to enhance the affordability, stability and accessibility of health care.

Catastrophic plans are designed to protect healthy people from financial devastation if they’re in an accident or are unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious illness.

Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals and families are eligible to purchase four levels of health care plans—platinum, gold, silver and bronze— with financial assistance. But financial assistance is currently not an option for catastrophic plans.

Health care expert Christopher Schrader says the lack of subsidies and the Obama administration’s stance on catastrophic plans mean many insurance companies no longer offer catastrophic plans.

“If you are an insurance company, and you’re thinking of launching a product that doesn’t have some of the benefits and features that all of the others do,” Schrader says, “and the people who are going to write you big fat checks tells you that they don’t think that is a very good idea, well, you’d have to think a few times before offering it wouldn’t you?”

AHIP officials say giving people options that include lower premiums could bring more healthy young people who would otherwise go without coverage into the market, which would help stabilize premiums for consumers.

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