Friday, October 13, 2017

Important News For The Under 65 Health Insurance Market

By Coleen Elkins    24-7 Health Insurance

On Thursday October 12, 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order created to improve access, increase choices and lower the cost of healthcare. 

The Executive order provides directives to The Department of Labor, The Department of Treasury (IRS) and Health and Human Services. The Department of Labor’s secretary has been directed to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand Association Health Plans (AHPs). The intent is to allow employers in the same line of business anywhere in the country to join together to offer healthcare benefits to their employees. This would be implemented to expand over time and lead to existing organizations and new ones created for the purpose of offering group health insurance. For example purposes only The Diabetes Association could work toward having a plan specifically to insure Diabetics. Associations with a common bond or purpose could choose to insure Association members to meet the needs of the members. State policy makers will have concerns that will need to be addressed as well. 

The secretaries of HHS, Treasury and Labor are to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand short-term limited duration insurance. This directive would allow the agencies to revisit the rule enacted by the Obama Administration that limited the length short term plans could be purchased to three months. 

The Executive Order also opens the door to Health Reimbursement Arrangements for employer groups to assist their employees with the cost of healthcare expenses. 

The timeline is 60 days for the secretary of Labor to act within 60 days to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance on Association Plans. The Treasury, Labor and Has to act within 60 days to consider proposing regulation or revising guidance on short term plans and 120 days on Health Reimbursement Accounts. 

Within 180 days regulator agencies must report to the president on state and federal laws, regulations and policies that limit healthcare competition and choice, as well as on actions that federal and state governments could take to increase competition and choice and reduce consolidation in healthcare markets. 

On an action separate from the Executive Order the White House Confirmed Thursday that it will stop making federal payments for “cost-sharing reduction” payments to health insurers. These cost sharing reductions reduced the out of pocket costs for health care for those in certain income brackets by lowering deductibles and out of pocket expenses for them. A statement from Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the “cutoff would be immediate”. 

We have spoken to insurance companies and are told they are acting now to make changes to their systems to provide revised health insurance products and longer purchase durations ready for 2018. 

Coleen Elkins

24-7 Health Insurance 

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