Parents: Don't Buy Cheap Health Plans, Experts Advise

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The cheapest health plans, with low premiums and high deductibles, are no good for families with children, pediatricians said Monday.

In fact, states should consider legislation that restricts the plans only to adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory. That includes the lowest-tier “catastrophic” plans offered on some Obamacare exchanges.

“Families with small children tend to be high users of primary care services. As such, high deductible health plans would seem to be particularly inappropriate for them,” the Academy said in a policy statement published in the journal Pediatrics.

These high-deductible plans are becoming more popular. They are a great way for employers and insurance companies to lower their costs, and they are good gamble for people who really never need to visit the doctor. Patients pay low premiums but often have to cough up a lot of cash if they do visit a doctor or hospital.

Experts fear that people may not realize just how much they will have to pay if they do need medical care.

“Whereas in 2006, only 4 percent of employees were covered by high-deductible health plans, that number is approximately 20 percent in 2013,” a special committee, headed by Dr. Thomas Long, of Hill Physicians in San Ramon, Calif. and Dr. Suzanne Kathleen Berman Crossville, Tenn, wrote.

“Because young families are often struggling financially, they will be particularly prone to choosing the lower-premium high-deductible health plan but then be torn whether to make a visit for a sick child,” they added.

“Although adults may be free to take chances with their own lives and health care, the state has a recognized function in protecting children. Consideration should be given to mandating that high-deductible health plans be offered only to adults and not children,” they concluded.