by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Trump would direct the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services to make changes to regulations so more people could band together to buy “association health plans” which would allow individuals or small businesses to band together, such as members of a Chamber of Commerce, to buy plans sold across state lines. The order also would allow people to buy short-term health insurance plans for longer than the Obama administration allowed and would encourage the use of health savings accounts.
Both association health plans and short-term plans are less expensive than Obamacare plans because they offer limited coverage. They don’t guarantee same-cost coverage, or any coverage, for people with pre-existing illnesses and they do not cover a broad range of medical care, from addiction treatment to maternity care.
Critics have referred to the plans as “junk insurance,” warning that expanding access to them would take customers back to the days before the passage of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. They also warn that providing such options would peel more people from Obamacare’s exchanges, leaving an even sicker — and costly — population with Obamacare plans.
But people who don’t receive federal help paying for their premiums, meaning people who make more than $48,240 for an individual or $98,400 for a family of four, and who do not have a pre-existing illness, may look to use one of the options. Many of those customers are facing double-digit premium increases in 2018. The number of people who have unsubsidized health insurance is pegged at anywhere from 6 to 9 million people. Some will face insurance that is so expensive that under Obamacare they will not be required to pay the law’s penalty if they decide not to get coverage.