In his continued efforts to chip away at the remnants of Obamacare, the POTUS during his rally in Nashville hinted, okay touted, that soon Health and Human Services (HHS) would be announcing a new insurance plan. The Trump administration intends to offer Americans an affordable alternative to the high-cost of coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges by abolishing one of the previous administration’s most oppressive regulations.
Short-term health plans are much less expensive than plans sold on the state and federal insurance exchanges and typically cost fractions less than major medical plans, while the benefits help pay for unexpected medical care resulting from accidents and illnesses. Also, because they usually exclude preexisting conditions, they tend to be an option for healthy individuals who are looking for financial protection from high claims.
SHORT-TERM PLANS ARE AFFORDABLE AND FLEXIBLE
The head of HHS, Alex Azar, has explained over the past few weeks that while the short-term plans might not be the best choice for everyone, they do provide additional options for some people who lack insurance coverage now. They are flexible and affordable, which is something missing in today’s market.
As predicted, even as far back as 2015, the premiums this year have ballooned to an all-time high. While millions of Americans struggle to afford health insurance, Congress seems content not to wake the sleeping dog.
President Trump wants the HHS to expand access to alternative options that won’t price millions of individuals out of coverage. The proposed rule change is a step in the right direction and could even be more powerful by also making plans renewable. Obamacare’s proponents are not in favor moving forward. They refer to the short-term plans as “junk insurance” because they only cover the bare necessities, like doctor visits and emergency care and not all ten of the “essential health benefits” under Obamacare.
SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING
This healthcare crisis will not go away on its own, and with the critical mid-terms right around the corner, it seems the president is the only one who dares broach the topic of healthcare. At least he is trying to do something to help and not sitting around waiting for the magical mystery tour bus to appear and fix everything. To date, in addition to ending the individual mandate and easing restrictions on short-term health plans, President Trump has put forth the following initiatives:
- Expand access to association health plans and prohibit them from refusing coverage or charging more to those with pre-existing conditions. It also allows people on association health plans to buy policies in other states.
- Allow employers to use pretax dollars for “health reimbursement arrangements.” These help workers pay for any medical expenses. Under Obamacare, workers could only pay for health policies that met its rules.
- Find ways to limit consolidation within the insurance and hospital industries.
- Find additional means to increase competition and choice in health care.
- Allow senior citizens enrolled in Medicare who hit the catastrophic period, which kicks in after they have paid more than $5,000, to pay nothing more out of pocket.
- Require insurers to share rebates from drug companies with Medicare patients and change the way Medicare pays for expensive drugs administered at doctors’ offices.
These may not be perfect, but they are at least something. After the debacle in the Senate with repeal and replace, Mitch McConnell has no desire to bring anything forward unless he is confident there are enough votes to secure passage. Americans deserve more from their elected officials.
President Trump is in the process of burying this disaster he inherited called Obamacare. The Democrats are already sitting back and pointing fingers, saying that he is responsible for this mess. Moreover, while it might be a dangerous cliff to scale, Americans might be willing to cast votes during the mid-terms for any semblance of change and not care who is to blame. So Republicans, while there is still an opportunity to be something other than complacent, maybe it is time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.