Neal Stands Up for Consumers and Urges FTC to Crack Down on Misleading Marketing by Junk Health Care Plans

Mar 31, 2022
Press Release
Several reports have shown deceptive marketing practices push consumers toward junk health plans that lack ACA protections

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) wrote to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina M. Khan concerning reports that substandard health plans are using misleading marketing practices and urged FTC to use its oversight and enforcement tools to investigate any wrongdoing. A study from the Government Accountability Office and another from the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms both found that these marketing practices lead consumers to substandard plans that lack the protections that Democrats fought to include in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Individuals are being directed to these plans based on false or misleading information, later becoming saddled with extreme medical bills due to the failure to protect against pre-existing conditions and meager (or lack of) coverage for particular health care items under these plans,” wrote Chairman Neal. “No American should improperly be directed to a substandard health plan that can expose them to catastrophic medical bills – and the COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized the importance of affordable and comprehensive health insurance options.” 

The Chairman noted that the “Trump Administration sought to weaken the ACA by expanding and promoting short-term plans, fixed indemnity plans, health care sharing ministries, and other products that lack the consumer protections guaranteed under the ACA. As a result, various press reports highlighted consumers drawn in by prices that appeared cheap only to learn after obtaining medical services that they were exposed to substantial medical bills.”

Neal went on to explain that while the Biden Administration has sought to strengthen the ACA: “unfortunately, multiple studies show that consumers who could benefit from ACA Marketplace coverage must overcome various deceptive marketing practices… These efforts to steer consumers toward such substandard plans are deeply troubling.”

The Chairman requested the FTC brief Ways and Means Committee staff on any enforcement activities related to these misleading practices within two weeks.

The full letter is available HERE.