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Health Insurance Reform Bills Push for Short Term Plan Limits, State-Based Marketplace

Woman speaking to group of people
Sarah Balog of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

*VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi and Del. Sam Rasoul are proposing limits to short-term limited duration health insurance plans. Virginia law currently permits short term plans of up to six months. The bills propose limiting them at three months.

Sarah Balog of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society says these short term insurance plans were not meant to be used long term. She says they don’t include many of the same benefits as traditional health insurance, like coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

“Anything that makes them appear as if they are a similar product to regular health insurance confuses consumers, and it draws people again out of the comprehensive marketplace and makes the [cost] for real insurance go up,” Balog said.

The bills would also make short term coverage plans non-renewable in a one year period. Currently, Virginians can get up to 36 months of coverage on these plans. 

Additional legislation proposed by Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Mark Sickles aims to create a state-level insurance marketplace. Virginia currently participates in the Affordable Care Act marketplace at the federal level.

Supporters of a state-level market say it could save Virginia money that would otherwise go to the federal government. Diane Simon is an advocate with the Healthy Markets Virginia Coalition that favors the idea.

“With a Virginia marketplace, that gives the state a lot more control over the types of insurance that the state is able to offer so that people have more affordable, good quality health care options," Simon said.

Gov. Ralph Northam expressed support for creating a state-based health insurance marketplace in the state budget last year.