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House panel launches probe over short-term health insurance plans

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is conducting an investigation into the practices of companies that either sell or assist consumers in buying short-term, limited duration insurance healthcare plans.

The committee decided to launch an investigation after an initial examination showed that insurance companies selling these plans "discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions and put consumers at significant financial risk," according to a news release. The committee also raised concerns that insurance brokers and agents selling the plans mislead consumers about the nature of the coverage.

As part of the investigation, the committee is seeking documents and information from 12 companies, Agile Health Insurance, Anthem Inc., Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Cross Idaho, Cambia Health Solutions Inc., eHealth Inc., Everest Re Group Ltd., Health Insurance Innovations Inc., Healthcare Solutions Team Inc., Independence Holding Co., National General Accident and Health and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

The documents and information being requested are related to the companies' sales and marketing strategy involving short-term health plans. The committee is also asking for details on the commission brokers and agents receive for short-term health plans.

"At eHealth we understand the concerns of Chairman [Frank] Pallone [Jr.] and the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and we welcome this inquiry into any potentially misleading marketing practices among sellers of [short-term, limited duration insurance] products or of issuers denying care that is contractually covered,” CEO Scott Flanders said in a news release.

The other companies did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment outside of U.S. business hours.