The annual maximum benefit rule waivers for limited benefit health plans have affected only 1% of U.S. residents with employer-sponsored health coverage, according to the head of an agency implementing part of the Affordable Care Act.
Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), talked about the annual benefit limit issue today at a oversight subcommittee hearing organized by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee.
CMS is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the CCIIO has been managing implementation of many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that fall under the jurisdiction of HHS.
The Affordable Care Act is the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
PPACA opponents in Congress have been looking for ways to repeal, change or block implementation of the act.
The CCIIO has been forging ahead with efforts to apply many PPACA provisions, including one that would phase out health plan annual benefit limits.
Many limited-benefit plans have had waivers as low as $2,500.
Starting with policy years beginning between Sept. 23, 2010, and Sept. 22, 2011, non-grandfathered health plans are supposed to have annual benefit caps of at least $750,000. The minimum annual benefits levels will increase twice before 2014. All annual benefits are supposed to go away in 2014.
Applying the annual benefits limit rules to the limited-benefit plans immediately would have hurt their enrollees, Larsen testified, according to a written version of his testimony posted on the committee website.
PPACA critics have noted that the Obama administration has granted hundreds of annual benefit rule waivers to limited-benefit plans – including plans sponsored by organizations that lobbied for passage of PPACA.