Patient advocacy groups seeking to protect patients with chronic conditions from an exception that could increase out-of-pocket spending beyond the limits set in the federal healthcare reform law aren't happy with the terse response they received on Tuesday from the U.S. Labor Department.
The government's response indicates that patients could face much higher out-of-pocket costs than the limits established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Labor Department told patient groups, including the National Health Council, Easter Seals and the Epilepsy Foundation, that it won't reverse its policy issued in February for the millions of Americans who have either group coverage through their employer or buy individual health insurance.
The ACA set limits for out-of-pocket costs at $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families, both in group and individual insurance products. But an exception gives certain small-group and non-grandfathered individual plans a one-year grace period to comply with the ACA. Plans using multiple claims payers will have until 2015 to comply with the ACA and implement unified out-of-pocket limits.