Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

President Donald Trump's answer to Obamacare: Short-term health insurance

5 Cities Sue Trump Admin, Claiming ACA 'Sabotage' Is Unconstitutional Lawsuit: Trump Violated Constitution by Undermining Obamacare
Ben Pena | 04 August, 2018, 16:12

The Trump administration is clearing the way for insurers to sell short-term health plans as a bargain alternative to pricey Obama-law policies for people struggling with high premiums.

The administration said the plans can last up to 12 months and will be allowed to be extended to a maximum of three years - reversing Obama-era rules that limited the coverage to no more than three months.

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.

"'If we don't get it done" in Congress, President Trump has said, "we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we'll blame the Democrats. and at some point, they are going to come and say, 'You've got to help us, '" the complaint alleges, adding that Trump has repeatedly stated that Obamacare is "essentially dead". These rule changes represent his attempts to "reinvent and transform the system we have (with) the tools we have at our disposal" in a way that gives "as many options to individuals as possible".

Until now, the health-care law had a built-in deterrent for those considering short-term plans. The Obama administration limited the sale of short-term plans to 90-day periods as a stop-gap between more robust plans.

Only 106,000 people were on short-term health plans at the end of 2016, according to the administration. Almost nine out of 10 plans sold on the marketplace are subsidized based on an individual's income.

"They are discouraging Americans from enrolling in comprehensive plans that protect them against debilitating medical expenses".

Short-term plans have been a niche product for people in life transitions: those switching jobs, retiring before Medicare eligibility or aging out of parental coverage. That means if a plan had a $1,500 deductible, it would in effect become a $6,000 deductible during a year.

Short-term plans are less expensive because, unlike their ACA counterparts, which cannot bar people with preexisting health conditions, insurers selling these policies can be choosy - rejecting people with illnesses or limiting their coverage.

Administration officials say the short-term plans will provide a cheaper health insurance alternative for those who can't afford to buy coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.

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Premiums are much cheaper than ACA plans, particularly for younger, healthier people-often 20% of the cost of the lowest-priced bronze plan on the local ACA exchange; they typically offer broader provider networks than ACA plans.

The cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus and Cincinnati filed the lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, arguing that Trump's actions against the Affordable Care Act violate the Constitution's provision that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed".

Under the Trump administration directive, insurers also can renew the short-term coverage for the same amount of time as the original plan - maxing out at 36 months.

DE insurance broker Nick Moriello said consumers should carefully consider their choice.

Adversaries of the plans are calling them "junk insurance".

In the months since the idea surfaced, it has elicited a wall of opposition from the health insurance industry, hospitals and patient advocacy groups.

The Trump administration is rolling out a new proposal to expand the use of short-term health insurance plans. "Our clients can't continue to pay rate increases in the double digits".

The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury announced new rules Wednesday that make it easier for consumers to replace ACA insurance with these short-term policies.

But Oregon consumers should take note: The state allows these short-term plans for three months but then the insurer must wait 60 days before issuing another short-term plan to the same policyholder.

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