The Trump administration moved Wednesday to expand health insurance options and affordability for Americans, with a new rule allowing cheaper new and renewable health insurance plans that consumers can use for up to a year.
The Department of Health and Human Services, Labor Department, and Treasury Department released the final rule that allows consumers to buy “short-term, limited duration” health insurance plans that are not subject to the Obamacare requirements. Consumers can have the plans for up to a year, instead of three months under the new rule.
The average monthly premium for an individual with a short-term plan in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $124, compared to $393 for an unsubsidized plan in the Obamacare exchange, according to HHS.
“They can be as much as 50-80 percent lower cost than the Affordable Care Act exchange plans,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters Wednesday. “We believe this could provide relief for well over 1 million people.”
The new rule is largely a return to the existing rule before 2017, when Americans could keep the plans for almost a year, which changes as President Barack Obama was heading for the exit. To encourage more people to join the exchanges, Obama reduced short-term limited duration coverage to less than three months in an executive action just three weeks before leaving office.
The plans again cover an initial period of one year, as before Obama’s action. The difference is that the plans come with a renewable maximum period of no longer than three years.
Azar said he would like to see Congress repeal and replace Obamacare, but until then, he is going to work to expand more private choices for consumers. He said this would not undermine the Obamacare exchanges, where 87 percent of consumers are subsidized. But this does offer a choice for those who don’t qualify for subsidies, he said.
“If someone decides, ‘I’m paying too much for insurance I don’t value that gives me an inadequate benefit and I find what you allow to be offered here in the short-term, limited duration plans to be something that is more financially attractive and more attractive as a health benefit for me in terms of coverage,’ that type of voting with their feet, I would find quite meaningful,” Azar told The Daily Signal during the press conference Wednesday.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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