Biden Targets ‘Junk’ Insurance, Vowing to Save Money for Consumers Who Are Construed as ‘Suckers’

WASHINGTON (AP) President Joe Biden on Friday launched a new set of initiatives to reduce health care costs: a crackdown on what he called junk insurance plans that play consumers like suckers, new guidelines to prevent surprise medical bills and an effort to reduce medical bills credit card debt.

Biden is building previous initiatives to limit health care costs, with the Department of Health and Human Services releasing new estimates showing 18.7 million seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries will save about $400 a year on drug costs prescription in 2025 due to the fact that the president placed a limit on pocket-spending as part of the last few years Inflation Reduction Act.

Prepare for his 2024 re-election campaign As inflation remains a top concern for voters, the Democratic chairman highlighted his policies to help families manage their spending, as well as a series of government incentives to encourage private sector development of electric vehicles, clean energy and advanced computer chips.

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Republican lawmakers have criticized Biden’s policies saying they spurred higher prices that hurt household well-being.

Biden said his administration was targeting what he called junk insurance plans, such as short-term policies that can deny basic coverage when people switch from one employer to another and still need coverage temporary healthcare.

The proposed new rules aim to fill gaps that allow insurers to offer products that may discriminate based on pre-existing terms and market to consumers coverage that provides little or no coverage.

In America, that sounds corny, but fairness is something we expect, Biden said. And I don’t know anyone who likes to be seen as if he’s being made a fool of.

Biden invited Cory Dowd to tell his story at the White House event to spotlight the initiative. Dowd in 2019 bought a high-deductible health care plan when he returned to the US after serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, but before he started graduate school and was able to get a student health plan . He thought the plan would protect him in case of a medical emergency.

But just weeks before starting school, she had to have emergency surgery to remove her appendix. Months later, the hospital called to tell him that his insurer would only cover a small portion of his bill and that he would have to pay more than $37,000 out of pocket.

For me, there was both a financial and emotional cost, said Dowd, who added that the insurer caved after news coverage of his situation. I have always considered myself a very responsible person. But this really took a toll on my self esteem and identity.

Biden also announced new medical billing guidelines starting in the 1920s Law without surprises. The guidance would limit the ability of insurers who contract with hospitals to require care provided to be out-of-network and for customers to pay more. Health plans should also disclose facility fees that are increasingly being billed to patients and can emerge as an unexpected cost on a medical bill.

Folks, this is not health insurance, Biden said. This is a fraud. It has to end.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Treasury Department are also looking for information about third-party credit cards and loans used specifically to pay for health care. Higher costs and interest can discourage people in need of care from seeking care.

The president also highlighted previous efforts to reduce health care costs in his remarks, including a plan that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and a $35 monthly cap on insulin for people in Medicare Part B.

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