WASHINGTON BUREAU — Sen. Jay Rockefeller will hold a hearing Dec. 1 on whether limited-benefit “mini-med” plans should be classified as health plans.
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, scheduled the hearing after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released interim final medical loss ratio (MLR) rules that will apply relatively loose minimum MLR standards to mini-med plans and to expatriate medical insurance policies.
“While I am disappointed that limited benefit ‘mini-med’ plans continue to seek exceptions from [MLR] standards, they should know that their requests will be subject to close scrutiny,” Rockefeller said. “As I have said before, I look forward to closely examining what type of coverage these plans provide to consumers over the coming year.”
John Greene, a vice president at the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), Arlington, Va., defended the HHS decision and mini-med policies in general.
“What Sen. Rockefeller will find out is that mini-med plans serve a distinct employer population,” Greene said.
Mini-med policies tend to serve low-wage, short-term, transient workers, including new entrants to the work force, retail workers, and nursing home and home care aides, Greene says.
“Providing full-blown health insurance benefits is not