Trump's Cheaper Short-term Health Plans have Coverage Gaps

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Short-term plans have been a niche product for people in life transitions: those switching jobs, retiring before Medicare eligibility or aging out of parental coverage.

Senate Democrats on Thursday said they will attempt to block the new rule on short-term, limited-duration insurance, which expands the market by offering consumers access to cheaper plans than those in health insurance exchange under the ACA; the ability to buy the insurance for a year compared with the current three-month limit; and the opportunity to renew the plans for up to three years. And it could draw a court challenge. Major insurer UnitedHealthcare is marketing short-term plans.

"These plans are nothing short of junk", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said. They are suing to force the administration to restore the funding that was slashed for outreach and enrollment assistance, extend the 2019 open enrollment period, and steer people towards comprehensive ACA plans and away from skimpy short-term plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions.

The plans will also carry a disclaimer that they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements and safeguards.

"Our main concern is that OR consumers understand that these policies are not ACA compliant, and may not offer the same protections and health benefits as an ACA plan, such as emergency services, prescription drug coverage and maternity care", said Brad Hilliard, spokesman for Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services. That could make comprehensive coverage more expensive and leave some consumers "unaware of the risks of these policies", she added.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar on the Trump administration's efforts to reduce health care costs for Americans and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's, (D-Calif.), criticisms of the administration's new tax cut proposal. They usually exclude coverage for critical health services that consumers have come to expect their policies to cover.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY says Democrats will "do everything in our power" to stop the Trump administration's expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

Allowing short-term plans to last longer is the latest move to change regulations issued by the Obama administration.

"These new short-term plans are nothing short of junk insurance and are so unsafe for Americans that it's no wonder not a single group representing patients, physicians, nurses or hospitals has voiced support", Schumer said in a statement.

The Trump administration is clearing the way for insurers to sell short-term health plans as a bargain alternative to pricey Obama-law policies for people struggling with high premiums. They can be renewed for up to 36 months, though that renewal isn't guaranteed. Details are expected Wednesday. Also, 300,000 people who now buy individual market polices outside of the Obamacare exchanges will switch to short-term plans and another 100,000 uninsured folks will purchase them next year.

Unable to repeal much of the Obama-era law, Trump's administration has tried to undercut how it's supposed to work and to create options for people who don't qualify for ACA subsidies based on their income. In fact, these plans look a lot like the often all-but-useless private health plans that littered the individual market before the ACA reined in predatory and discriminatory insurance industry practices.