CT Insurance Dept. mulling expansion of 'short-term' plans

Cities Sue Trump for Violating Constitution With Latest Effort to Upend Obamacare

Many comments came from people who said they have existing medical conditions that - before the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections were put in place - would have been unable to get insurance that would cover their condition. "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".

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued final rules that would allow states like CT to allow the sale of cheaper, skimpier health care plans that were originally intended for short-term use but would now be available for 364 days, or almost 12 months, at a time. But there's no federal guarantee of renewability.

But many health policy experts say the plans will offer severely limited coverage and could drive up costs for people who remain in the Affordable Care Act market. Details are expected Wednesday.

The pair of new rules carries out an executive order President Trump signed in October, directing agencies to broaden access to these two small niches in the insurance market to promote "a health-care system that provides high-quality care at affordable prices for the American people".

It's unclear how that might happen, since versions of such plans have always been available - including during the Obama administration.

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. The plans were limited to three months, and President Donald Trump is making them available for longer. Some states do not permit them. "But with the number of uninsured people going up, our ability to recoup is hurt, and that's a direct result of President Trump trying to sabotage the ACA". "Will cost our country nothing".

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.

Short-term policies are available now, but consumers can only buy them for up to three months.

"Our hope is folks who are looking at short-term coverage instead of the ACA are doing so with their eyes open", said Sean Malia, senior director of carrier relations with eHealth, a private online insurance marketplace.

The plans do not have to meet Obamacare's baseline coverage minimums, so things like prescription drugs or maternity care may not be covered under these plans.

At a hearing Tuesday, Sen.

By drawing younger or healthier consumers out of the ACA marketplace, the short-term plan expansion will add up to a 1.7 percent increase to premiums next year, according to the industry lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans. However, they are reportedly a viable option for beneficiaries who are between insurance coverage - an individual transitioning jobs or a student taking time off from school, for example.

Coleman says the average use of short-term coverage was almost seven months, so many consumers were having their deductibles reset three times.

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

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the long-term goal remains to "repeal and replace" the ACA. "They are not going to cover anything related to a pre-existing condition".

Brokers will likely be pushing the plans, as they often pay higher commissions than do ACA plans.

The complaint further alleges that the administration has shirked oversight of insurance rate increases and reduced rebates to consumers, in an effort to raise premiums, create uncertainty, and cause insurers to flee the markets.

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

"The broader availability and longer duration of slimmed-down policies that do not provide comprehensive coverage has the potential to harm consumers, both by making comprehensive coverage more expensive and by leaving some consumers unaware of the risks of these policies", said Justine Handelman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose members are a mainstay of ACA coverage. But the insurance company warned that short-term policies "would be unlikely to include many of those protections, such as the preexisting condition exclusion prohibition, coverage of essential health benefits without annual or lifetime dollar limits, preventive care, maternity and prescription drug coverage, rating restrictions, and guaranteed renewability".

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