Expert: Short-term health care plans give consumers choice

Christina Dalton

With early-voting underway, recent polls show healthcare has become a top issue in the November midterm elections. One politically charged issue on the table is the availability of short-term health care plans that offer limited benefits at a low cost.

Opponents of these policies are concerned that the availability of short-term health care plans will undermine the Affordable Care Act and harm those who purchase them. The arguments: (1) Consumers will purchase short-term plans without fully understanding the limited coverage they provide. (2) Healthy individuals who might join an Affordable Health Care plan will choose a short-term plan instead.

“There are several reasons, especially in the current insurance environment, why offering short-term health care plans is actually beneficial to consumers,” said Christina Marsh Dalton an economics professor and expert in health economics and health care markets at Wake Forest University.

“Short-term bare-bones insurance plans, while they may not offer all the bells and whistles of the ACA insurance plans, do give consumers a choice.” Christina Marsh Dalton

“Yes, short-term plans are most attractive to healthy people. However, since the financial penalty has been removed from the individual mandate, these healthy consumers have already been exiting the ACA exchanges, without the threat of a fine to keep them there. Short-term plans are an option for those who perhaps wouldn’t end up buying health care coverage at all – healthy people or people who can’t afford expensive plans with better coverage.”

“This isn’t to say that healthy people and people on a tight budget are the only people who would choose these plans, but certainly the plans are a better option than no health insurance at all for many consumers.”

Dalton holds an adjunct appointment with Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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Christina Marsh Dalton

Assistant Professor of Economics & Adjunct Appointment, Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Dalton’s research focuses on health economics, health care markets, public and private insurance, and the economics of public health policy.

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