Order will bring back junk insurance plans, destabilizing health insurance markets, increasing premiums for older and sicker people, and weakening consumer protections
RALEIGH (October 12, 2017) — Today, the Trump administration announced an executive order that continues the pattern of previous efforts—including increasing premiums in 2018 by holding payments to insurers hostage, slashing funding for outreach and promotion by 90 percent, gutting funding for in-person enrollment assistance, and using taxpayer dollars to create pro-repeal ads, among others—to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
The executive order itself instructs federal agencies to explore regulatory changes that could severely destabilize the insurance market; in particular, expanding the sale and use of short-term, limited-duration policies as year-round coverage options jeopardizes consumer protections.
By expanding the sale of loosely-regulated short-term plans, the order aims to pull out young and healthy enrollees from the Marketplace and put them into bare-bones policies with sky-high deductibles, dollar- and service-limits on coverage, and pre-existing condition discrimination. By trying to create a parallel health insurance market for the young and healthy, the Trump administration would make the ACA’s Marketplace look like a de facto high risk pool, as low-risk consumers are siphoned off into junk insurance markets.
“Even the young and healthy consumers who get lured into these junk plans will eventually suffer: after all, healthy people can become sick people,” said Brendan Riley, Policy Analyst for the NC Justice Center’s Health Advocacy Project. “The healthy eventually need health care, but they may be left without coverage for their new conditions or without protection against financial ruin when the unexpected—an illness or an accident—happens.”
Expanding access to association health plans could also destabilize and segment the health insurance market. Regulatory changes could allow these plans to play by different rules, undermining consumer protections, enabling discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, and weakening the oversight authority of state regulators. In particular, if these plans can be sold to self-employed individuals, they will further segment and destabilize the individual insurance market.
This executive order comes less than a month before the Open Enrollment period for 2018 begins. Consumers may be confused by all the headlines and political attacks on health care, but they can still enroll during the shorter Open Enrollment period starting November 1 and ending December 15. More than 9 out of 10 North Carolinians who enroll qualify for financial help to reduce their costs, and North Carolinians can schedule a free in-person appointment with an expert by calling 1-855-733-3711 or logging on to www.NCNavigator.net.