March 19, 2019

Skimpy health insurance plans & pre-existing conditions are back under new Trump rule

06 August 2018, 10:29 | Randall Craig

Four cities sue Trump saying ObamaCare 'sabotage' violates Constitution | TheHill

Trump agrees to let insurers sell cheaper health plans than ObamaCare

Insurers will soon be allowed to sell these policies for just under a year.

0% of the short-term insurance plans now on the market offer maternity care 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.

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.

The plans, which have been available for years and were originally created to fill a temporary gap in coverage, will likely be cheaper than Obamacare policies.

Short-plans cost about one-third as much as comprehensive coverage but don't have to cover pre-existing medical conditions. What was your experience?

Coleman says the average use of short-term coverage was almost seven months, so many consumers were having their deductibles reset three times. 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. And, unlike Obamacare policies, they don't have to cap consumers' cost-sharing burden at $7,350 for 2018.

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

This is pure politics, It overlooks the nature of the plans: they are short-term plans, not for everybody (this is not the plan you would purchase if you have a pre-existing condition), and they fill a niche. In fact, some consumers with these plans have complained that they've been hit with unexpected expenses.

Last month, the Trump administration released a rule for "association plans" that allow small businesses and sole proprietors to band together and buy coverage that's less expensive than existing options.

For some people, though, the cheaper premiums can come at a cost, such as when insurers claim that a cancer treatment shouldn't be covered because a patient had the disease before buying coverage, as Bloomberg reported in October. Short-term plans were originally intended for people who were between jobs or needed temporary coverage for other reasons.

And, for insurers, profit margins tend to be higher for short-term plans compared with ACA coverage.

The Trump administration has finalized a rule to allow insurers to sell short-term health insurance plans for up to 12 months, a controversial move that has been criticized by the industry. "The premium baseline from which they're operating is entirely too high and unaffordable for so many people, but under President Trump we've brought stabilization there that at least is bringing some relief to individuals".

Azar said they're tailor-made for the "gig economy".

"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. "These policies will not necessarily cover the same benefits or extend coverage to the same degree".

Only 106,000 people were on short-term health plans at the end of 2016, according to the administration.

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. More short-term plans will be available starting this fall.

A major insurer group is warning that the Trump administration's short-term health insurance plans could be harmful for consumers. That means if a plan had a $1,500 deductible, it would in effect become a $6,000 deductible during a year.

The move "will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices", Blue Cross Blue Shield Association president Scott Serota said in a statement. What if they had the constant worry of how to pay for their insurance? Such plans can be offered across state lines and are also designed for self-employed people.

Short-term plans have also been a source of headaches for enrollees. Also, the offerings could be less attractive to young women if they don't cover maternity benefits.

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