WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Casey announced Tuesday that Google has taken steps to remove false and misleading advertisements for HealthCare.gov from its online search results, two weeks after the senator’s office revealed the scope of the problem.
The Pennsylvania Democrat released a report on Oct. 29 that highlighted a variety of ways consumers searching online for comprehensive health coverage established by the Affordable Care Act can be confused by a slew of advertisements for short-term, low-cost plans.
Mr. Casey’s report — using screenshots of search results from Google, Yahoo and Bing — showed paid advertisements that often appear in large groups before any of the real, search engine-generated results begin. The advertised plans were so-called “junk plans” — short-term, low-benefit plans that fail to meet key tenets of the 2010 health law, like coverage for pre-existing conditions and protections from large out-of-pocket expenses.
The Trump administration has allowed consumers to enroll in those short-term plans for up to three years. Previously, those plans were capped at three months, originally intended to act as a temporary safety net for people who were in between jobs or who needed quick help.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it is unclear what specific steps the company has taken.
In a statement, Mr. Casey praised the company for responding to his report as consumers shop for Obamacare plans through Dec. 15 during the open enrollment period.
“I commend Google for removing advertisements that falsely claim to be the [HealthCare.gov] website, but may lead to junk health insurance,” Mr. Casey stated. “I am warning consumers to make sure they are shopping for coverage at HealthCare.gov this open enrollment period.”
Daniel Moore: email@example.com, Twitter @PGdanielmoore