In its continuing effort to undo the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is close to allowing insurers to sell short-term, lower cost health insurance plans. Health And Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said they’re an alternative to the very expensive policies mandated under ObamaCare law. Some people — he says — are struggling to pay those premiums, make too much money for subsidies and need an alternative.
What those policies don’t have to do is cover pre-existing conditions and they can offer limited benefits. While that sounds ominous, Azar said not all that many people are going to find it appealing.
“For many who’ve got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them. We’re just providing more options,” he said.
Plans — under this plan — can last 12-months and be renewed for as many as 36-months. They are expected to be about a third the cost of comprehensive coverage. As it stands now the silver plan under ObamaCare is $481 a month for someone 40 who is a non-smoker. Under this plan it would run $160 a month or less.
However, there is no guarantee that insurers have to renew and the plans have a disclaimer that they don’t meet the ACA’s requirements.
Jim Parker who is an advisor on ObamaCare for the HHS said, “We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage. But what we do know is that there are individuals today who have been priced out of coverage.”
President Trump is enthusiastic about the plan and with a typical Trump response said, “Much less expensive health care at a much lower price. Will cost our country nothing. We’re finally taking care of our people.”
Democrats immediately attacked. Washington Sen. Patty Murray called this “a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans.”
Azar disagrees. “It may not cover every condition, but it’s a really important option for a lot of people in transition between jobs, those gig economy workers who work on their own as independent contractors or the folks who are struggling with three part-time jobs and don’t get insurance through any one employer.”
Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin is going to introduce a resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted it all Democrats will back the resolution but the real question is how many Republicans will jump on board. “All it takes is one or two Republicans who claim to support preexisting condition protections,” Schumer said.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) thinks close to six-million more people will enroll in these plans once they are offered. The Trump administration estimates aren’t so high. It is estimating 1.6 million.
Source links: Insurance Business America, The Hill