‘Mandate Lite’ health care options stir controversy in Kansas

Old Kansas Statehouse

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There’s controversy surrounding a new health care law in Kansas. It’s called the Mandate Lite Health Benefit Plan Act, it lets health insurance companies offer stripped-down health care coverage.

David Powell, an author of the bill, says when people go to choose their health care plans this fall under the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to be anything but cheap.

“I can see health insurance costs going up,” Powell says.

The Mandate Lite health care plans allow people to pick and choose what want covered or not covered, and prices vary based on what coverage someone chooses.

“We’re giving consumers in the state of Kansas, not just families and individuals, but business owners, choices,” says Powell.

Insurance agent Scott Day says this type of coverage would be ideal for a young, healthy person who might not want or need as much coverage as an older person.

“Their rates are going to more than triple and that’s the group that everybody wants to have insurance, that’s why they made an individual mandate,” he says.

What we don’t know right now is whether or not these Mandate Lite options qualify under the Affordable Care Act, but Powell says either way, insurance companies are allowed to offer them.

“I think that a lot of people will buy non qualified plans, they’ll have enough money to pay a penalty if they have to pay the penalty, and still come out ahead,” Powell says.

Kansas Representative Jim Ward says this plan comes with a serious price.

“It’s no-benefit insurance,” Ward says. “What no-benefit insurance requires you to do when you go into this cafeteria is to project into the future whether you’re going to have cancer or whether you’re going to have a heart issue or you’re going to get diabetes or asthma or respiratory failures and most people can’t do that.”

Ward says Mandate Lite contradicts the goal of the Affordable Care Act – to make sure people have their health care needs covered.

“They’re called essential benefits for a good reason, those are the things that are high demand and need the coverage,” Ward says.

Benefits Powell says people should decide for themselves.

The penalty for having non-qualified health insurance or no insurance under the Affordable Care Act is $95 for an individual, or 1% of annual income, whichever is higher.

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