Friday, 17 August, 2018

Trump administration makes it easier to buy alternative to Obamacare

Donald Trump Modal Trigger Getty Images
Johnnie Parks | 06 August, 2018, 10:25

Aetna, headquartered in Hartford, was more supportive of the administration's plan. It also adds a new twist: If they wish, insurers can make the short-term plans renewable for up to three years.

In a press release, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says, "These plans aren't for everyone, but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system". "We make no representation that it's equivalent coverage".

President Donald Trump's plan to reshape Obamacare without repealing the law continued Wednesday, as his administration rolled out its final plan to expand the use of skinny, short-term health insurance coverage.

Short-plans cost about one-third as much as comprehensive coverage but don't have to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Insurers in the individual market aren't allowed to spend more than 20% on these expenses.

Most short-term plans don't cover maternity care, outpatient prescription drugs, and substance abuse or mental health treatment, or they impose tight limits on these benefits; they can refuse to pay for treating conditions they consider pre-existing. "We're finally taking care of our people". Chris Murphy, D-Conn. "That's simply not health insurance".

She said she expects IHC to offer 12-month versions as soon as the rule goes into effect, which will be 60 days after it is published.

Parker said a short-term policy may cost as little as $124 a month, compared with an average $393 for an unsubsidized policy that meets all the ACA coverage requirements.

Connecticut-based insurers had lobbied the Trump administration, mostly unsuccessfully, to adopt certain consumer protections as it crafted the final regulations for short-term plans this year. They can include dollar limits on coverage and there's no guarantee of renewal. "And insurance companies can deny customers coverage on these plans if they have a pre-existing medical condition and charge people more if they are likely to need medical care". Typically, they don't provide free preventative care or maternity, prescription drugs and mental health benefits.

Pennsylvania's insurance regulator said some consumers complained about services that weren't covered, based on fine print in plan policies.

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The costs of the new plans will be set in the marketplace, but without ObamaCare's mandates they will be cheaper.

Zach Klein, the city attorney for Columbus, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told reporters Thursday that the Trump administration's cuts to ACA funding and promotion of unregulated health plans that violate the ACA will place a heavy burden on his city's resources.

Those changes to Obama-era rules, and other congressional actions, are expected to impact the cost of coverage for individuals in the ACA marketplace. Last month, the administration announced it was freezing payments that are part of an Obamacare program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses.

But that won't matter starting in January, when the penalty will disappear as a result of a tax overhaul that the Republican-led Congress adopted late a year ago.

Four states-Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island-essentially bar sales of short-term plans, while others, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and Minnesota, are considering or have passed restrictions on these plans.

Short-term plans have been a niche product for people in life transitions, people switching jobs, people retiring before Medicare eligibility or people aging out of parental coverage.

HHS received more than 150 letters from CT residents who wanted to weigh in on the new regulations. The Administration predicts some 600,000 people will sign up next year, roughly 100,000 of whom were previously uninsured. By one count 161,000 people were enrolled in short-term options at the end of 2016, though this is a low estimate. Short-term, limited-duration health plans are not considered "health insurance" under federal law, and as a result, they do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Four major US cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday contending that President Donald Trump's administration is unconstitutionally seeking to undermine Obamacare by failing to faithfully execute the healthcare law.

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