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PPACA: HHS OKs Many Mini Med Waivers

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The U.S. Department of Human and Human Services (HHS) has approved about 30 requests for minimum medical loss ratio waivers for limited-benefit health plans.

Issuers and users of limited-benefit plans, or “mini med plans,” have been worrying for months that the Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), could wipe out low-cost plans with low annual maximum benefits before subsidized alternatives or other affordable alternatives are in place.

This week, publications such as the New York Times are reporting that HHS has approved at least 29 waivers, and that at least some waiver applications are being approved within just a few days.

HHS officials were not immediately available to confirm the reports or say if HHS is posting information about mini med plan application decisions on the Web. No statistics on the number of total waiver applications filed and processed were immediately available.

HHS officials last week promised to be gentle with mini med plans.

The mini med community has been especially concerned about the effects of the new minimum medical loss ratio rules, which will require that the ratio of revenue going to medical care and quality improvement efforts be at least 80% for individual and small group coverage and 85% for large group coverage.

Officials at the new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO), a new HHS agency created by PPACA, have been promising for months that HHS would take a flexible approach to applying the rules to mini med plans and would provide a waiver program, but some mini med marketers had questioned how quickly the waiver program would work and whether HHS officials would really grant any waivers.

- Allison Bell


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