President Trump introduces more uncertainty in the health care market

| MaryAnn McCabe

On Thursday, Oct. 12, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) aimed at deregulating several aspects of the health insurance market. The administration’s stated goal was to “improve access, increase choices and lower costs for health care.” The EO was light on details, and its impact is yet to be determined.

The order seeks to reverse the Obama administration's 2016 rule that restricted short-term health coverage to less than three months. Trump’s EO would expand access to short-term limited duration insurance. These types of short-term insurance plans are exempt from Affordable Care Act (known as ACA or Obamacare) requirements, offering only catastrophic coverage. The reversal of the three-month limitation might be implemented in January after a review by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Trump administration’s EO will also expand access to Association Health Plans (ACPs). ACPs are groups of small businesses that band together to collectively buy health insurance. The proposed changes could exempt these plans from ACA requirements, including the coverage of pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits that individuals with psoriatic disease rely on. These changes would not take effect immediately and would need new regulations from the Labor, Health and Treasury Departments to take effect.

Finally, the EO asks agencies to give employers more flexibility to use pre-tax dollars in health reimbursement arrangements. These arrangements can be used only for expenses under health policies that meet ACA rules.

Hours after President Trump signed the EO, the White House announced it would end an ACA provision that lowered out-of-pocket medical costs for millions of Americans by ending the health insurance subsidy. This federal subsidy applies to deductibles and co-pays that help lower costs for consumers with low incomes. Trump’s announcement could deter millions from receiving coverage.

What this means for you

These two decisions could de-stabilize the ACA by encouraging healthy individuals to leave their current plans, prompting a spike in premium costs for those with pre-existing conditions who will still rely on ACA plans. This could potentially lead to increased costs for the ACA plans, further pushing healthy people to the skimpier plans, which, in turn, increases prices for ACA plans. 

Clearly, these two decisions are not in the best interest of our community. We are monitoring this issue. It is unclear when the plans will be available, but it is unlikely to affect consumers during the 2018 Open Enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1. Meanwhile, we are actively engaging federal agencies and facilitating ways to have our patient community’s voice heard. Check our new website and get involved with patient advocacy. 


Driving Discovery, Creating Community

This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. See how far we’ve come with this timeline of NPF’s history. But there’s still plenty to do, and we can’t do it without you! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funding to promote research into better treatments and a cure by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or even create your own DIY event. Contact our Patient Navigation Center for free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today! Together, we will find a cure.

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