Trump administration proposal to extend short-term health insurance options

HHS secretary says a proposed plan may expand short-term healthcare plans
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 at 7:44 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a move that the Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services say will give people "more options" when it comes to their health care access.

The HHS, Labor, and Treasury Departments announced this latest move Tuesday. The proposal comes in response to an October 2017 executive order by President Trump - to expand short-term health insurance options by allowing consumers to purchase limited-duration plans for up to 12 months, versus the current maximum of 90 days.

"It's about options for some, maybe the individual market plans for making sense and for others maybe this will make sense," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview with WIS. "And for others, we're going to keep working to make insurance on the system and any system we can get through Congress as affordable and as individualized as possible because that's what the president has asked us to do for folks."

With the repeal and replace effort failing in the U.S. Senate in 2017, Azar said while the intention to eventually repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is still a realistic goal for the Trump administration, right now – it's about providing options in real time.

"Short-term plans are less costly because they're not subject to all the mandates of Obamacare," Azar said. "This really is a good example of just how having a one-size-fits-all national system of insurance regulation really dominates the pricing of plans."

Azar said the plans would be attractive to individuals transitioning between policies, students taking a semester off from school, or individuals in rural areas or counties where they only have one insurance carrier to choose from.

Meanwhile, critics have said the short-term plans are skimpy at best and lack comprehensive coverage that an individual may eventually need.

They also say that the lower cost of short-term plans could drive up the cost of other plans in the marketplace.

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