Consumer Reports Investigates 'Junk' U.S. Health Plans


"In almost all instances, consumers would be far better off if they are able to get coverage from other types of more conventional health plans," said Weiner. "But if there are no other options, and consumers understand what is and is not covered by these min-meds, then the extra coverage would be helpful to those lucky enough to have only modest healthcare expenses during the year."

Metcalf warned against looking for health insurance using an Internet search engine. A consumer is bound to stumble upon mini-med plans that have great marketing, but bad benefits, she said. Instead, those seeking out an individual health plan should visit, a site that allows consumers to search for base premiums based on age, location and pre-existing conditions. If there is financial hardship, be sure to check whether they are eligible for Medicaid. A person is much more likely to be eligible for Medicaid if there are children in the household.

Metcalf also suggested seeking out independent brokers who specializes in health and life insurance and represent multiple companies. They can then help navigate through the myriad of explanations of each plan.

"An individual seeking health insurance is too vulnerable and it's too dangerous to look for health insurance on their own," said Metcalf. "Never ever buy online. Don't go near a search engine or you'll get in trouble."

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