Trump administration finalizes expansion of short-term health plans

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Typical of the comments from CT was one that said the new rule would make it easier for insurers to sell plans that don't cover critical health care services, like mental health coverage, maternity care, or prescription drugs and "would turn back the clock to the days when insurers could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions". Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a prepared statement, "We remain concerned that consumers who rely on short-term plans for an extended time period will face high medical bills when they need care that isn't covered or exceed their coverage limits".

"For many who've got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday.

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.

President Trump has consistently declared that the Affordable Care Act - commonly referred to as Obamacare - is a broken mess, and after several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the national health care law, he has eagerly anticipated that it will "fail" and "implode".

"We make no representation that it's equivalent coverage", Parker said. "It will undermine Americans' access to affordable coverage, particularly those who need medical care the most".

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.

According to estimates, the administration said short-term plan premiums could be about a third of the cost of comprehensive coverage - about $160 a month or even less. Next year, there will be no tax penalty for someone who opts for short-term coverage versus a comprehensive plan, so more people might consider the option.

Some in the industry say they're developing "next generation" short-term plans that will be more responsive to consumer needs, with pros and cons clearly spelled out.

The rule released on Wednesday makes the short-term plans available for a duration of up to a year, and insurers can make the plans renewable for as long as three years.

Short-term plans are cheaper than ACA plans.

But short-term insurance clearly has fewer benefits.

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Many of those people have been priced out of the health insurance market since the ACA took effect, says Joseph Antos, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

Most exclude benefits for maternity care, preventive care, mental health services or substance abuse treatment.

"It could cause thousands of families to lose everything they've worked so hard for when they are struck by illness or injury and their health plan does not protect them from financial ruin", the letter to HHS said. They include more than 210,000 in Oregon.

With the three-month restriction on short-term plans, people's deductibles were reset every three months.

DE insurance broker Nick Moriello said consumers should carefully consider their choice. "But, the premiums for those plans will rise as short-term plans cherry pick healthy people".

The expanded plans will be able to go on sale in two months, or as long as it takes for state regulators to approve them.

"It's a way better alternative to not being insured", said Jeff Smedsrud of Pivot Health.

Making it easier to buy health plans that avoid the law's protections is part of a strategy being employed by Trump and his aides of relying on executive powers to undercut aspects of the law, whose demolition has been one of Trump's central goals since his 2016 campaign.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that roughly 6 million more people will eventually enrol in either an association plan or a short-term plan.

Four cities on Thursday sued President TrumpDonald John TrumpPro-Trump pastor: Trump is "the most pro-black" president I've ever seen Trump renews calls for interview with Mueller: report CNN's Acosta: Hannity is "injecting poison into the nation's political bloodstream" MORE, arguing that he is violating his constitutional duty to enforce the law by "sabotaging" ObamaCare.

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