The federal government is letting America’s small businesses down when it comes to health care. Despite the obvious benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to small firms, the Trump administration and its allies continue to undercut the law, including their recent move to expand short-term insurance plans.
This month, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule went into effect that allows insurance companies to sell short-term insurance plans that last up to 364 days and to renew those plans for up to three years.
These policies are often referred to as “junk insurance” because they are not required to cover essential health benefits like prescription coverage or mental health treatment, meaning they don’t cover much of anything. While this extremely limited coverage normally makes these policies inexpensive on the surface, they typically carry high deductibles. Continue reading
The Labor Department issued a final rule authorizing the expansion of association health plans over the objections of virtually everyone who weighed in on the proposal, including small businesses. Such broad opposition was with good reason.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s assertion that the Trump administration is helping consumers “forgotten” by Obamacare is a fantasy.
Azar’s claims that the expansion of association health plans (AHPs) and short-term health insurance will bail out consumers priced out of health plans available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces ignore the reason those plans are becoming more expensive: because the administration is sabotaging the ACA.
The Trump administration is expected to release a plan soon that it claims would help lower costs for small businesses struggling to afford health insurance, but the truth is this proposed rule will not fulfill that need.
If enacted, the rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would make it easier for insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines, which would theoretically encourage groups of businesses, such as trade associations, to band together to form what are known as association health plans, or AHPs.
While some insist these plans would be a boon to small business, we as health care experts, insurance regulators, and small business advocates know they would create far more problems than they would solve. Indeed, this is why many state insurance commissioners and others have been sounding the alarm on the proposed rule.
Although the Trump administration and its allies failed to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year, they took a number of smaller steps that added up to a big problem: The ACA is now weaker.
Unfortunately, the administration is still seeking to undermine the health-care law, moving forward with proposals that would expand association health plans (AHPs) and short-term insurance plans, both of which have the potential to limit the ability of state insurance commissioners to regulate health plans and cause premiums to rise.
While some claim these proposals would be a boon for small business, small business advocates and health-care experts know we must maintain safeguards that promote affordable health-care coverage and stabilized health insurance markets.
The proposal to expand association health plans threatens both state insurance oversight and market stability. If the administration’s current proposal becomes a rule without offering guarantees that states would retain regulatory authority over these plans, it could wreak havoc on the small-group market.