Health insurance in America today is now more important than ever. This is especially true for young adults, ages 19 to 29. While many are using the government sponsored Medicaid and CHIP programs, these young adults have been forced to use something known as mini-med plans. These plans have been largely criticized for its insufficient aid and often detrimental outcomes. The mini-meds offer very weak protection for young adults both in terms of benefits and coverage range. With all this in mind, it is estimated that by end of 2013, the mini-med plans will be phased out, due in much part of the Affordable Care Act.
Mini-Meds: A Closer Look
A mini-med plan is often does more harm than good for the average consumer. Most mini-med plans have very limiting benefit caps, often placing the limit at only $5,000. The average young adult in need of serious health care will often pay bills up to thousands of dollars. One in every ten young adults has medical bills ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 a year. Simply out, $5,000 does not cover the costs and will certainly not cover any long term costs for any future injuries or illnesses. Such high costs could even mean bankruptcy for some young adults working low paying jobs (http://ccf.georgetown.edu/ccf-resources/young_adults_perspective_on_the_problem_with_mini-meds/).
Another negative factor of mini-med plans is the sheer dishonesty involved with marketing the plans to consumers. Young adults are often unaware or uneducated in the realm of health insurance, making them easy prey to mini-med marketers who use complicated jargon. They are often deceived into believing the plans have an all inclusive coverage. Young adults, especially those in school, often think short term, which is exactly what mini-med plans are used for. They will be enticed by the mini-med’s low purchasing cost, but fail to realize how inefficient it really is. However, these plans are in fact too short term and will not cover the majority of their health care costs (http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/09/11/mini-med-plans-worth-price-tag/).
So why are these ineffective health care plans still in use today? Besides those who are not prone to serious health injuries, many businesses offer their employees mini-med plans as health insurance. These businesses seek to offer the illusion they are providing benefits for their staff and workers, but in reality they are not. For instance, restaurants such as Ruby Tuesday, McDonalds, and Denny’s still offer mini-med health care plans. Ruby Tuesday requires its employees to pay $18.43 per week for a mini-med plan that only covers up to $1,250 for outpatient care and $3,000 for inpatient care per year. McDonalds makes its workers pay $56 a month that only covers up to $5,000 a year. Denny’s has a mini-med plan that covers up to a measly $300 per year for its employees (http://kff.org/health-reform/perspective/what-is-a-mini-med-plan/).
The Future of Mini-Med Plans
The future of mini-meds is coming to an end. This is due in large part to the Affordable Care Act which will phase out the short benefit caps that the mini-meds impose. After September 23, 2013, health insurance plans cannot have annual limits less than $750,000 with the banning of annual dollar limits of any kind by 2014. Mini-med plans exist today largely due to the government issued waivers that many businesses have signed in order to keep providing their employees with sub-par benefits with little cost. As of now, no new waivers will be allowed and any existing waivers will expire by 2014 (http://kff.org/health-reform/perspective/what-is-a-mini-med-plan/).
However, there may be a future yet for mini-med plans, albeit in a much more, cut down version. There seems to be no question that by the end of this year, mini-meds will be disposed of. But there are talks of having a so called “skinnier” coverage plan. An insurance company may be able to provide a dumbed down version of a full coverage plan that would be targeted towards low-income consumers. It would have no lifetime restrictions. As long as these plans meet the new health reform law’s qualifications, this could be a possibility. One of the nation’s most popular mini-med health care plan providers, Aetna, may convert to this new plan in the near future, most likely after 2013 (http://aishealth.com/archive/nhpw031113-02).