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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Do a quick search for health insurance, and you'll find plenty of ads for "Trumpcare" plans that cost $59 or less per month. But there's a catch: Trumpcare doesn't exist, and many of these advertised plans offer bare-bones coverage.

Why it matters: For people who buy health insurance on their own instead of receiving it through an employer, searching for a plan is already challenging. And deceptive marketing only makes it harder, especially when these plans will leave consumers on the hook for potentially ruinous medical bills.

Reality check: The primary way the Trump administration has altered the insurance market is by expanding niche products — including short-term plans, association plans and health reimbursement arrangements.

After seeing Trumpcare ads in search engines, I submitted contact information to get quotes about coverage options. Over the the next week, I was bombarded with 70 phone calls and 12 texts from insurance brokers.

  • Every broker I spoke to admitted there is no such thing as Trumpcare, and that it is a marketing ploy from the lead generator site.
  • When I asked how I could get the plan that was advertised for $59 or less per month, brokers said the ads were in reference to short-term plans or fixed indemnity plans that offer little to no coverage for serious illness or injury.

What they're saying: "These websites that are selling 'Trumpcare' are capitalizing on the fact that very few people know what's going on," said Louise Norris, an independent insurance broker in Colorado.

  • One family who recently bought a short-term plan through Health Insurance Innovations, a platform that has used fraudulent brokers, was on the hook for more than $244,000 in medical bills even though they thought they were protected, Bloomberg reported.

The other side: Jeff Smedsrud, co-founder of HealthCare.com, a site that has advertised "Trumpcare" plans, said he didn't think it was misleading to use that framing for plans that are sold through its brokers.

  • "Could it lead to confusion? I don't think it has. Anything is possible," he said. "I'll certainly look at what we do. I may have our team change our mind on that."

The bottom line: "It's impossible to expect consumers to discern between the good guys and the con artists," said Sabrina Corlette, a health insurance researcher at Georgetown University. "And it's not the good guys that pop up on the first page of your Google search results."

Go deeper

4 mins ago - World

South Korean president: Trump "beat around the bush and failed" on North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking in Seoul in March 2021. Photo: Jeon Heon-Kyun/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized former President Trump's attempts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, telling the New York Times he "beat around the bush" with North Korea and "failed to pull it through."

Why it matters: Moon, now in his final year in office, called denuclearization a "matter of survival" for South Korea and urged President Biden to resume negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after a standstill of nearly two years.

18 mins ago - World

U.S.-Israel tensions bubble up as Iran talks progress

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Gali Tibbon (AFP)/Getty Images

As nuclear talks in Vienna enter a critical stage, the gaps and suspicions over Iran between the Israeli government and the Biden administration are growing.

Why it matters: Both sides want to avoid the kind of public fight that emerged during the negotiations over the 2015 deal. But in private, there's growing frustration on both sides about the lack of trust, coordination and transparency.

38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Cadillac's electric shift begins with launch of 2023 Lyriq SUV

2023 Cadillac Lyriq. Photo: GM

GM plans to start taking orders in September for the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, a striking electric SUV coming early next year at a starting price of $59,900.

Why it matters: The production version of the Lyriq, which debuted Wednesday, marks the beginning of the luxury brand's phaseout of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2030.