5 Things to Know About the Proposed 'Copper' Plans

Insurers and some U.S. senators have proposed offering "copper" plans  — health plans with low premiums and very limited coverage  — on the health insurance exchanges, but the plans could have negative implications for both hospitals and consumers, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Here are five things to know about the copper plans.

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act offers four types of health plans: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The platinum plan has the most expensive premiums and covers 90 percent of medical expenses, on average. Bronze plans have the least expensive premiums and offer the least comprehensive coverage — paying 60 percent of medical expenses.

2. America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade organization, and a group of senators have proposed introducing copper plans as a new level of coverage on the exchanges. The premiums for copper plans would cost consumers less than any other plan type offered on the marketplaces, and the copper plans would pay 50 percent of covered medical expenses, according to the Post

3. Deductibles for insurance plans offered on the exchanges can typically not exceed $6,350 for individual coverage. However, the deductible for a copper plan would be roughly $9,000.

4. The plans for the 2015 open enrollment period are already being set up, and the introduction of the copper plans into exchanges would require congressional action. Therefore, the earliest the copper plans could be available on the exchanges would be 2016.

5. Many experts believe the plans would have negative implications for hospitals and consumers. "It's a false promise of affordability," said Sabrina Corletter, project director at Washington-based Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reform, to the Post. She said if consumers ever have to use the copper plans they won't be able to afford it. In addition, when consumers who purchase copper plans are unable to pay the bills associated with medical services they receive, many times hospitals will be unable to collect and be left with an unpaid bill.

More Articles on Health Insurance Exchanges:

Federal Exchange Plans to Automatically Renew in 2015 Under Proposed Rule 
Wellmark Will Not Join Federal Exchange in 2015 
5 Things to Know About New Health Insurance Enrollees 

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