For every dollar in premiums that UnitedHealthcare collected from people enrolled in short-term health plans last year, it spent less than 40 cents on patients' medical claims.
Short-term plans sold by Cambia Health Solutions, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in four states and sells short-term plans through its LifeMap subsidiary, spent even less on medical care, paying out just 9 cents for every dollar in premiums.
These low "loss ratios"—which show the percentage of premiums spent on medical claims and were published last week in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' 2018 Accident and Health Policy Report—are a stark reminder that short-term plans benefit insurance companies more than the patients who purchase them. The data bring into question what kind of value people receive from enrolling in a short-term health plan, insurance experts said. The Trump administration expanded access to such plans last year.
"Compared to comprehensive plans that have to comply with the ACA's rules, short-term plans' coverage limitations often result in carriers paying out far fewer claims, or paying pennies on the dollar," said Rachel Schwab, a research associate at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms.