The Obama administration limited the sale of short-term plans to 90-day periods as a stop-gap between more robust plans. Insurers will soon be allowed to sell these policies for just under a year.
Such health plans have long existed, and their idea was to provide temporary coverage for people who are between jobs or have other brief need for affordable insurance. ACAP has long opposed this ... proposal as an arbitrary and capricious effort to do a regulatory end-run around the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. According to court filings, this directly violates a clause in the USA constitution, which states the president and their administration must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed". Perhaps if they had to be concerned about how they would pay for their medical care they would be more motivated.
Have you ever had a short-term insurance policy?
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. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of current plans found none that covered maternity, and many that did not cover prescription drugs or substance abuse treatment - required under the Obama law. They can include dollar limits on coverage. Even worse, not having it at all and forgoing preventive care as well as needed prescriptions and treatment? In fact, some consumers with these plans have complained that they've been hit with unexpected expenses. "ACA enrollees eligible for subsidies will be protected, but middle-class people with pre-existing conditions will feel the full brunt". The two major insurance industry associations also expressed concerns about expanding the availability of these plans.
Critics say the plans are "junk insurance" that could lead to unwelcome surprises if a policyholder gets sick, and will entice healthy people away from the law's markets, raising premiums for those left.
"Congress, the Administration, and the states should work to stabilize the individual market - not simply create a parallel market that works only for healthy people", wrote the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a national federation of 36 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. While that allows the plans to have lower price tag - the average monthly premium for short-term health plans was $124 in 2016, compared to $393 for unsubsidized individual market plans - the coverage is less extensive.
The plans don't have to comply with Affordable Care Act rules including: coverage of essential benefits; prohibition against medical underwriting; limits on premium variations based on age, sex or health status; elimination of annual and lifetime benefit caps; annual limits on out-of-pocket costs; and the requirement that plans spend no more than 20% of premiums on administrative costs and profit.
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"These policies are different from those offered on the exchange", said James Parker, a senior adviser for health reform at HHS, in a conference call with reporters. But the policies for individuals have no guarantees of coverage for existing medical conditions and come with limited benefits.
Trump's actions have reduced enrollment and increased costs, the suit charges, forcing cities to pay more for health care for patients lacking health insurance. That would allow insurers to keep marketing the plans, instead of throwing the entire regulation into doubt.
It's unclear how that might happen, since versions of such plans have always been available - including during the Obama administration. The administration says it expects about 1.6 million people to pick a short-term when the plans are fully phased in.
Although attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - have failed, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein told The Columbus Dispatch that Trump has sought to sabotage the healthcare law through his words and actions since he took office.
Insurers will again be able to sell short-term health insurance good for up to 12 months under final rules released Wednesday by the Trump administration.
However, these plans also don't have to adhere to all of Obamacare's rules, particularly the one requiring insurers to offer comprehensive coverage.
Health insurance brokers, who had seen their role diminish under the ACA, welcomed the new rules to expand the use of short-term plans.