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The three most popular limited benefit medical insurance plans at Freedom Benefits

Core Plus Health Insurance from United States Fire Insurance Company, currently available in 39 states

Basic Health Insurance from Markel Insurance Company, currently available in 25 states

Value Med Insurance, from Guaranteed Trust Life Insurance, currently available in 38 states

Federal government warms up to mini-med plans

1,372 plans waivers approved by Department of Health & Human Services though April

This article was published in 2010 and the information is now outdated.

A.M. Best Company's insurance news division reported today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted a total of 1,3,72 waivers for health insurance plans though April. These waivers are reported to be overwhelmingly for limited benefit or "mini-med" plans and have the effect of exempting these insurance plans from the provisions of the 2010 federal health insurance reform laws.

Mini-med plans cover approximately 3.1 million Americans and have been the most popular type of insurance among individual consumers who pay for their own health insurance coverage. Their popularity is likely to grow as the growth in medical costs continues to outpace personal incomes.

Mini-med surge has not been without controversy. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. led congressional hearings into the use of such plans. Rockefeller said he wanted to "destroy" the idea that mini-med plans are better than no health insurance at all. Freedom Benefits helped defeat that errant thinking, publishing several articles in various industry and public platforms. We've always supported the idea that individuals should take on the type and amount of insurance that meets their financial circumstances, not the insurance deemed suitable by lobbyists or politicians. In any event, some insurance is clearly better than no insurance at all; the Senator's suggestion to the contrary simply lacks common sense and appears to be politically motivated.

Rockefeller took particular aim at McDonald's Corp., whose plans for employees at 1,500 company-owned restaurants and 80% of franchises impose annual caps as low as $2,000. McDonalds and the Council for Affordable Health Insurance then fired back, advocating for the rights of small businesses and individuals who would otherwise have no insurance. Many of those affected are part-time low wage earners who otherwise would have no health insurance.

HHS conceded and issued new rules requiring insurers offering mini-med plans to notify consumers in "plain language" that their coverage plans are "extremely limited". Freedom Benefits also emphasizes the limitations of these plans by pointing out that their maximum coverage would fall short in the event of a catastrophic claim.

Still, most consumers like the fact that these plans "get them in the door" and cover the bulk of the most frequent types of unexpected medical bills. Mini-med plans are more widely available and don't exclude applicants due to medical history. Most importantly, these mini-med plans are usually far more affordable than other types of available coverage.

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This web site is independently owned and managed by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. Any tax advice in this communication including attachments and linked resources cannot be used by the taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.