National Patient Advocate Foundation, along with 22 other non-profit organizations, today endorsed the Health Share Transparency Act. Introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman, the bill would require health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) to provide information directly to consumers before they enroll in coverage and require HCSMs to make accurate and timely disclosures.
HCSMs are a form of health coverage in which members contribute monthly payments to cover the qualified expenses of other members. Health shares do not have to comply with the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act and so provide limited benefits for their members and do not guarantee payment for medical claims. HCSMs reportedly jeopardize health of 1.5 million people in America through deceptive marketing practices and systemic failure to provide necessary products and services.
The Health Share Transparency Act will:
- Empower consumers with the knowledge to distinguish between comprehensive, regulated health insurance products and Health Shares by requiring disclosures by Health Shares during the enrollment process.
- Provide new data for regulators to assess the threat Health Shares pose to Public Health including rates of service denials, enrollment, service area, average out of pocket expenses for Health Share Members, and the contents of complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Ensure health insurance brokers selling Health Shares inform consumers if they are eligible for better, more comprehensive forms of health coverage including the ACA, Medicaid, or Medicare, and accurately describe the scope of benefits provided by Health Shares.
“Our case managers have worked with far too many patients who thought that they were insured only to discover that their HCSM wouldn’t cover a needed surgery, or would only pay for a tiny portion of what they needed,” said Alan Balch, PhD, CEO of NPAF and the Patient Advocate Foundation. “This bill will provide patients with the information they need to protect themselves from deceptive marketing practices and financial ruin.”
The bill is endorsed by Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, AIDS Institute, Epilepsy Foundation, Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, Center for Inquiry, Secular Coalition for America, Interfaith Alliance, The Mended Hearts, Inc., Arthritis Foundation, Equality California, American Kidney Fund, National Eczema Association, National Patient Advocate Foundation, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, American Atheists, National Health Law Program, Advocates for Youth, Hemophilia Federation of America, Chronic Disease Coalition, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, JDRF and the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Ann M. Kuster are original cosponsors of the legislation.