|Alex Azar, Secretary Health and Human Services|
By Coleen Elkins 24-7Healthinsurance.com
The Senate has approved the appointment of the new Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
This morning we are seeing reports of more executive orders planned for 2018 to provide additional exemptions for those seeking relief from the mandate to purchase health insurance.
The individual mandate was repealed in the new tax law recently passed, but requirements to purchase coverage doesn’t end until 2019.
The new hardship or exemption list has yet to be revealed and we will post it if/when it becomes available.
States are already beginning to look forward to new health insurance offerings. Concerned about soaring health care costs, Idaho on Wednesday revealed a plan that will allow insurance companies to sell affordable policies that ditch key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Idaho is believed to the the first state to take formal steps without prior federal approval for creating policies that do not comply with the Obama-era health care law.
Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron said the move is necessary to make cheaper plans available to people. Cameron went on to say “There are other states that have been talking about it, but we may me out in front. They may look to follow us should we be successful”.
The Idaho plan will make it possible for insurance companies to offer cheaper plans that might be more attractive to people who have to buy their own insurance and do not have the benefit from the federal premium subsides offered under the Affordable Care Act.
Under Idaho’s guidelines, insurers can offer plans that deny coverage for pre-existing conditions for up to 12 months unless the customer had continuous prior coverage. Insurers would no longer be required to cover pediatric dental or vision care, and though they would have to offer at least one plan with maternity and newborn coverage, other plans could exclude those benefits.
Insurance carriers can also charge people more based on where they live, their health history and their age, under the new Idaho rules. Insurers can cap their own costs at $1 million a year per individual, and can charge customers separate out-of-pocket maximums for different services. In other words, a customer could have a $7,000 out-of-pocket annual maximum for prescription drugs, another for doctor visits and another for hospitalization or mental health care.
Insurers offering such plans in Idaho still would have to offer policies that comply with the federal health care law for those who want them, Cameron said.
There is speculation whether Idaho can legally move forward. The state expects objections from Obamacare Advocates.
“I’m not even afraid if it needs to be litigated, though that’s not my preferred course,” Cameron said. “The real question is, when does the federal agency act — if they act at all.”