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HHS approves more mini-med health care plan waivers

HHS approves more mini-med health care plan waivers

WASHINGTON—The Department of Health and Human Services has approved 229 new waivers for sponsors of mini-med and other limited health care plans from meeting minimum dollar coverage amounts for essential benefits each year.

The waivers of the health care reform law requirement, which cover nearly 700,000 enrollees and were disclosed Friday, are the last to be approved under a policy announced last June.

Under that policy, all future applicants and those seeking a renewal of a previous waiver will receive waivers through the end of 2013 if sponsors comply with certain requirements, including submitting information about their plans to the government each year and ensuring that enrollees understand the limits of the coverage.

Previously, waivers lasted only one year.

Under that policy, first-time applicants had until Sept. 22, 2011, to file a waiver request. Plan sponsors that previously received a one-year waiver also had until that date to seek an extension that would run through the end of 2013.

1,500 receive extensions

Nearly, 1,500 sponsors of limited health care plans, covering more than 3 million people, previously received one-year waivers. The overwhelming majority of those entities applied for and received an extension through the end of 2013, according to HHS statistics.

The waivers are needed because most, if not all, mini-med and other limited health care plans run afoul of federal rules that set an annual dollar limit on essential benefits that health care plans must provide as mandated by the health care reform law. The minimum limit for 2012 is $1.25 million and the 2013 limit is $2 million. Starting in 2014, annual limits for essential benefits are not permitted.