Aetna U.S. Healthcare has offered a bare-bones product it says is a step toward reducing the number of uninsured Americans. But a consumer group says Aetna's Affordable HealthChoices plans would leave patients with huge bills if they needed serious care.
The three products pay $50 for a physician visit and $500 or more a day for the first three days of hospitalization. Depending on the state, individual premiums range from $46 to $91 a month.
"If you purchase one of these plans, don't get sick," says Families USA President Ron Pollack, who worries that small businesses will abandon more expensive group plans for minimal coverage such as Aetna's.
CEO Richard Huber says Aetna is trying to bring at least some level of coverage to the nation's 43 million uninsured. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business applauded Aetna for its private-sector attempt.
Separately, the Health Insurance Association of America has called on federal and state governments to extend a variation on the Children's Health Insurance Program to people with incomes below poverty. For families within 200 percent of poverty, HIAA urges federal vouchers equaling 75 percent of the average premium of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program, to be used to buy coverage.