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Professor Robert Field Discusses Expansion of Short-Term Health Plans on Knowledge at Wharton

Professor Robert Field

August 08, 2018

Professor Robert Field discussed a move by the Trump Administration to relax restrictions on short-term health plans during an appearance on Knowledge at Wharton on Aug. 6.

The decision to allow short-term health plans designed as temporary stop-gaps to provide coverage for up to two years has been touted as a means to help save money for those who purchase their own insurance.  Field said, however, that the short-term policies often provide bare-bones coverage.  

“This is an extreme case of let the buyer beware,” Field said, comparing short-term insurance plans to cars that could be bought without a steering wheel. “You would still own a car. It might not be very good for transportation.”

While some policies provide legitimate coverage, the policy is not accompanied by regulations that would ensure minimum standards, Field said.

“The structure of the (Affordable Care Act) was to provide that regulatory framework so that you knew you were getting something of value,” Field said, contrasting that structure with the decision to lift restrictions on short-term policies. “The risk is that people will think they’re getting something of value and won’t be.”

Insurers are “not thrilled” with changes to the ACA, Field added, since they had been seeing gains in selling Obamacare plans and now could be “left holding the bag” for consumers who’ve blown through coverage limits and run up hospital bills.

Field appeared on the program with Atul Gupta, a professor of health management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Field, the director of Drexel’s JD-MPH program, is also a lecturer at Wharton.