Biden Announces Measures Aimed at Limiting Health Care Costs

FRIDAY, July 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- New federal initiatives could help save Americans money on health care costs.

President Joe Biden announced plans Friday to target surprise medical bills, scam insurance and third-party credit cards and loans that carry high interest charges, the Associated Press reported.

Limiting “junk” insurance plans is a key initiative. These are short-term policies that people sometimes use during a gap in coverage when switching jobs.

They can deny basic coverage, as in one case highlighted by Neera Tanden, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She said a Montana man was charged $43,000 when one of these insurance providers declared his cancer a preexisting condition, the AP reported.

“That’s not real insurance -- that’s junk insurance,” Tanden told reporters. “We will propose a rule to crack down on these plans.”

Another target are third-party credit cards and loans specifically used for health care. Both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Treasury Department are seeking information on these methods, whose high costs can deter policyholders from seeking health care.

A third initiative builds on the 2020 No Surprises Act.

For this, Biden is offering new guidance that would require health plans to disclose facility fees that are added to patient charges. It would also limit the ability of insurers who contract with hospitals to claim care wasn’t in network, saddling patients with a bigger bill, the AP reported.

“Frankly, what they are doing is gaming the system -- this is not allowed,” Tanden said.

Biden is also expected to highlight other ways he’s helped Americans save money, as people struggle with the impact of inflation.

As a result of last year's Inflation Reduction Act capping out-of-pocket spending, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 18.7 million older adults and other Medicare beneficiaries will save $400 per year in prescription drug costs in 2025.

More information

The nonprofit KFF has more on American challenges with health care costs.

SOURCE: Associated Press, July 7, 2023

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