Federal bill would increase lifetime caps on group health plans

A Democratic Representative has filed a bill that would increase the lifetime benefit caps for members of group health plans. The legislation, filed by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) and Jason Altmire (D-PA), would raise minimum lifetime benefit ceilings to $5 million for the first two years of coverage and $10 million for the third and fourth years. If passed, this legislation would have a major impact, as more than 50 percent of covered workers in employer-sponsored health plans have lifetime coverage limits for single coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust.

Eshoo has said that she's filed the bill to protect patients with disabilities or chronic disease. Her argument is that increasing the caps will offer a net savings to federal and state governments, as these individuals will be able to keep their health insurance rather than rely on public care. Health plan trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, meanwhile, opposes the bill, saying it will raise patient premiums without addressing the root causes of health care cost increases.

To learn more about the bill:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece