by Jordan Roberts
Director of Government Affairs, John Locke Foundation
A Washington Post article discussed the early successes of a Trump Administration healthcare reform – association health plans.
According to assistant editor and opinion contributor Robert Gebelhoff, critics of these plans were wrong:
It’s time to acknowledge that critics may have misjudged one of the Trump administration’s signature health-care policies — “bigly.”
Also, earlier this week the Washington Posts’ health policy expert wrote about the successes:
A crop of new health insurance plans enabled under regulations from the Trump administration appears more consumer-friendly and less like “junk” insurance than Democrats originally charged.
Chambers of commerce and trade associations have launched more than two dozen of these “association health plans” in 13 states in the seven months since the Labor Department finalized new rules making it easier for small businesses to band together to buy health coverage in the same way large employers do. And there are initial signs the plans are offering generous benefits and premiums lower than can be found in the Obamacare marketplaces...
…“We’re not seeing skinny plans,” said Coleman, who founded a website last year with information on association health plans. “We’re seeing the regular doctor care, we’re seeing emergency room care, we’re seeing mental health coverage.”
The farm cooperative Land O’Lakes, which is expanding its association plan to farmers in Nebraska and Minnesota, has said its premiums will cost 25 percent to 35 percent less than plans sold on Nebraska’s ACA marketplace. Every category of essential health benefits — which are required for marketplace plans — is covered, according to an analysis by Modern Healthcare.
Several business associations in Nevada have started offering association health plans to member companies. Enrollees in the plan offered by the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce have cited lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
Two of Michigan’s largest business associations are partnering to offer members association plans managed by BlueCross BlueShield of Michigan, some of which will cover essential health benefits and offer different premium and deductible levels…
These plans are subject to less regulation than ACA plans so many individuals thought they would become magnets for fraud or wouldn’t offer any of the benefits that ACA plans do. But market forces have proved critics wrong because as noted above these plans have offered generous benefits. They are also required to cover those with pre-existing conditions:
But what’s sometimes been lost in heated, politicized exchanges is that the Labor Department did ban these plans from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions. That perhaps reflects a growing realization among Republicans that opposing these popular protections is a political loser.
Democrats’ claims that association plans constitute “junk” insurance aren’t necessarily true. That’s because the plans are subject to the same requirements currently in place for large employer plans, including requirements to fully cover preventive care and bans on limiting annual and lifetime benefits.
If North Carolina aligned their rules with the rules of the Trump administration, many North Carolina residents will enjoy the option to use these plans to band together and buy health benefits.