Trump Orders Expansion of Healthcare Insurance Options
Despite the inability of republicans in Congress to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump has promised an executive order to offer relief to healthcare consumers facing rising insurance premiums. He is using “the power of the pen,” according to a tweet, to overhaul healthcare.
Under the ACA, new insurance requirements prohibited insurers from denying sick consumers or placing annual and lifetime limits on medical coverage, and mandating a basic set of benefits. ACA requirements mandate coverage of prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health treatment. Trump’s proposal will expand use of short-term plans and allow insurers to bypass some ACA requirements and protections.
Trump will not be able to ditch all existing insurance protections altogether, because they are law and can only be changed by an act of Congress.
According to Kaiser Health News, Trump’s order also instructs agencies to consider new regulations to:
- Permit the practice of providing tax-free employer contributions through health reimbursement accounts that workers could use to buy individual market plans. The Obama administration had barred that practice. This adjustment might result in more employers dropping job-based coverage and simply giving workers money to buy their own plans.
- Report on steps federal and state governments could take to “increase choice and reduce consolidation” in the health care market. A senior administration official said Trump is concerned about the growing number of regions served by only one or two insurers or hospital systems.
The Los Angeles Times said that critics fear, “… if implemented, the changes could result in more bare-bones coverage and pull healthier people out of the already struggling insurance markets, leading to higher premiums for those who remain in more-regulated coverage.”
If Trump’s executive order is enacted, changes will not affect upcoming open enrollment for 2018.