NRF Tells Congress ‘Mini-Med’ Health Insurance Plans Play Important Role Despite Limited Coverage

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The National Retail Federation told a congressional committee today that limited benefit “mini-med” health insurance plans play an important role in making health coverage available even if they aren’t comprehensive.

“Limited benefit coverage is, by definition, far less comprehensive but is also far more affordable than comprehensive health insurance,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Around 1.4 million Americans are covered under limited benefit coverage today. Many – if not most of these – would be without affordable private coverage if limited benefit coverage disappeared tomorrow. Some coverage – clearly explained and patiently disclosed to consumers – trumps no coverage every time.”

“Limited benefit coverage fills an important need not readily replaced by the market or hard-pressed state Medicaid rolls,” Duncan said. “We believe that the Obama Administration has taken a wise and appropriate course to safeguard this coverage during the difficult transition to 2014.”

Duncan’s comments came in a letter to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. The committee held a hearing today on “Are Mini-Med Policies Really Health Insurance.”

Mini-med plans have low annual limits on coverage but also have low premiums. They are used by a number of retail and restaurant companies, particularly those with high turnover.

The plans were threatened recently because they would be unable to meet a new “medical loss ratio” provision in this year’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring that health insurance plans spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on paying claims for medical care rather than on profits, salaries or other administrative costs. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week gave mini-meds a one-year reprieve, saying they would receive special treatment in calculating the ratio for 2011. Officials will collect data on the plans and decide later how they should be treated in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, workers will be able to purchase full-scale insurance through new insurance “exchanges,” making the limited plans unnecessary.

As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion.


National Retail Federation
J. Craig Shearman, 202-626-8134
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  District of Columbia

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Public Policy/Government  Healthcare Reform  Congressional News/Views  Public Policy  White House/Federal Government  Retail  Other Retail  General Health  Managed Care