PHOENIX, AZ — A bill which made its way through both houses of the legislature, was signed by the governor is now being called a scam that threatens to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
"We're here today because of one of the most damaging bills to pass the legislature," House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez of Yuma.
Senate Bill 1109 extends from 12 months to 36 months the time policy holders can purchase short-term health insurance. It conforms to new federal limits created President Donald J. Trump's executive action last summer. Fourteen states have signed on.
The Arizona law requires insurers to disclose the exclusions and limitations of the policy. Governor Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak says, "this legislation simply provides consumers additional options to choose from in the healthcare market. It does not limit healthcare nor does it jeopardize plans already in place."
Four-year-old Lily Gray is a cancer survivor. "We were not a cancer family until we were a cancer family," Lily's dad John Gray says.
The Grays joined a collection of lawmakers and public health officials to challenge the impact the bill will have on consumers. They argue many policy holders may buy the low cost insurance only to learn when it's too late, the policy does not cover pre-existing conditions, the cost of prescription drugs, or things like maternity care and drug treatment.
"For those folks considering buying one of these plans," Will Humble the Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association says, "really, really check carefully the fine print because it may not be what you think it is."
According to a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation on insurance coverage,45% of Arizonans have health insurance thru their employer.
22% have Medicaid.
15% rely on Medicare.
10% are uninsured.
6% have individual or private insurance. This is the market for the short-term plans.
The Arizona Department of Insurance's Legislative Liaison Stephen Briggs says, "SB 1109 includes a requirement for disclosure of the exclusions and limitations of the policy both on the fact page of the policy and on the application of coverage. We believe that these disclosures will provide Arizona consumers with the information they need to make an informed buying decision."
Being an informed purchaser of health insurance is the one piece of advice John Gray is willing to offer. "Make sure you know what your buying," Gray says. "Because the care for you or some you know may really depend on it."