Trump set to ease some Obamacare rules

Republican lawmakers have so far failed to repeal Obamacare, but that hasn't stopped the president from doing what he can to relieve some of the more onerous parts of the law.

This week, Trump will sign an executive order that will lower premiums for many who buy their own insurance and give small businesses a break in being able to join together to purchase insurance for their employees.

Wall Street Journal:

Republicans have long contended that the insurance rules set by the 2010 health law, popularly dubbed Obamacare, have driven up premiums in the individual and small group markets, for healthier Americans especially. Democrats and supporters of the law typically counter that the rules have protected consumers from unwittingly buying shoddy products and helped subsidize the costs of sicker Americans.

Mr. Trump will order three agencies, the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, to take steps to make it easier for people to band together and buy insurance through “association health plans,” the official said.

Such plans would in some ways be like large employer’s health plans, subject to some restrictions set by the Affordable Care Act, including a ban on lifetime limits. But they would be free of other regulations, including the requirement that insurance plans cover a set package of benefits. These plans are popular with conservatives; some insurers fear that associations would peel off healthier and younger individuals and leave traditional insurance plans to cover sicker and older customers.

The president also will order the agencies to start winding back an Obama-era rule curbing coverage known as “short-term medical insurance,” a low-cost but limited-protection option, and allow people to once again buy those plans for up to a year, the official said.

The Obama administration banned the sale of those plans that offered coverage for more than 90 days, arguing they were inadequate for people’s needs. Some industry officials have pressed the administration to restore them, saying that when marketed honestly they can fit the needs of particular consumers currently priced out of buying the more generous coverage available as a result of the 2010 health-care overhaul.

In addition, the executive order would order agencies to expand health reimbursement accounts, employer-funded arrangements that employees can use to pay out-of-pocket medical costs and premiums. Obama-era guidance from 2013 had prevented pretax employer dollars in the arrangements from being used to buy health insurance on the individual market.

The three moves would represent the most substantive step the White House has taken to date in paring back Affordable Care Act rules using administrative powers. They don’t go as far as many critics of the law would like but are likely to be followed by other steps, administration officials said.

Peeling off "healthier and younger individuals" from more traditional plans is what's happening now. The major reason Obamacare is failing is the lack of "young invincibles" signing up for coverage. Obamacare plans are already mostly covering sicker and older patients. Changing the rules will encourage at least some younger and healthier consumers to sign up.

These "consumer protections" that Obama put in the law are nothing less than an acknowledgment that the government doesn't think ordinary people can decide for themselves what kind of coverage they and their family need. That's been the basic problem with Obamacare from the start. It limits choices for consumers because government doesn't believe they are intelligent enough to know what's best for themselves.

Congress has dropped the ball on repealing Obamacare. But reforming the law to make it more consumer friendly and allow more freedom of choice for Americans would be a good start.

 

 

Republican lawmakers have so far failed to repeal Obamacare, but that hasn't stopped the president from doing what he can to relieve some of the more onerous parts of the law.

This week, Trump will sign an executive order that will lower premiums for many who buy their own insurance and give small businesses a break in being able to join together to purchase insurance for their employees.

Wall Street Journal:

Republicans have long contended that the insurance rules set by the 2010 health law, popularly dubbed Obamacare, have driven up premiums in the individual and small group markets, for healthier Americans especially. Democrats and supporters of the law typically counter that the rules have protected consumers from unwittingly buying shoddy products and helped subsidize the costs of sicker Americans.

Mr. Trump will order three agencies, the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, to take steps to make it easier for people to band together and buy insurance through “association health plans,” the official said.

Such plans would in some ways be like large employer’s health plans, subject to some restrictions set by the Affordable Care Act, including a ban on lifetime limits. But they would be free of other regulations, including the requirement that insurance plans cover a set package of benefits. These plans are popular with conservatives; some insurers fear that associations would peel off healthier and younger individuals and leave traditional insurance plans to cover sicker and older customers.

The president also will order the agencies to start winding back an Obama-era rule curbing coverage known as “short-term medical insurance,” a low-cost but limited-protection option, and allow people to once again buy those plans for up to a year, the official said.

The Obama administration banned the sale of those plans that offered coverage for more than 90 days, arguing they were inadequate for people’s needs. Some industry officials have pressed the administration to restore them, saying that when marketed honestly they can fit the needs of particular consumers currently priced out of buying the more generous coverage available as a result of the 2010 health-care overhaul.

In addition, the executive order would order agencies to expand health reimbursement accounts, employer-funded arrangements that employees can use to pay out-of-pocket medical costs and premiums. Obama-era guidance from 2013 had prevented pretax employer dollars in the arrangements from being used to buy health insurance on the individual market.

The three moves would represent the most substantive step the White House has taken to date in paring back Affordable Care Act rules using administrative powers. They don’t go as far as many critics of the law would like but are likely to be followed by other steps, administration officials said.

Peeling off "healthier and younger individuals" from more traditional plans is what's happening now. The major reason Obamacare is failing is the lack of "young invincibles" signing up for coverage. Obamacare plans are already mostly covering sicker and older patients. Changing the rules will encourage at least some younger and healthier consumers to sign up.

These "consumer protections" that Obama put in the law are nothing less than an acknowledgment that the government doesn't think ordinary people can decide for themselves what kind of coverage they and their family need. That's been the basic problem with Obamacare from the start. It limits choices for consumers because government doesn't believe they are intelligent enough to know what's best for themselves.

Congress has dropped the ball on repealing Obamacare. But reforming the law to make it more consumer friendly and allow more freedom of choice for Americans would be a good start.

 

 

RECENT VIDEOS