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Trump Relaxes Restrictions on Short-term Health Plans

By Burg Simpson
August 7, 2018
3 min read

Since he took office, President Donald Trump has worked tirelessly to undo nearly everything his predecessor did. That’s been glaringly apparent in his attempts – aided by an eager Republican Congress – to dismantle Obamacare.

A critical component on that coordinated attack on health care reform is the advocacy for short-term health insurance plans.

These affordable plans look great on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, it quickly becomes apparent that you really do get what you pay for – if that.

Trump Rule Lengthens Short-term Plans

Just last week, the Trump Administration drafted a new rule lengthening the time allowed for short-term health insurance plans that the Affordable Care Act largely phased out years ago.

These 12-month plans boast much lower premiums – up to a third less than traditional comprehensive coverage – and can be renewed for up to three more years, as reported by the Associated Press. These plans are aimed at individuals and families who might not be able to afford full health coverage but earn too much to qualify for subsidies to go into the health care exchange market.

“We see that it’s just unaffordable for so many people who are not getting subsidies and we’re trying to make additional options available,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a release announcing the change. “These may be a good choice for individuals, but they may also not be the right choice for everybody.”

However, these plans are as limited in scope as they are in length. They likely do not cover pre-existing conditions or prescription drugs. As such, they don’t meet the requirements established by the ACA. They also don’t include a renewal guarantee.

Colorado Pushes Back

These limitations – among others – probably explain why the state of Colorado’s Department of Insurance issued a consumer advisory in the wake of the rule change reinstating short-term health plans.

“Short-term plans are cheap for a reason – they typically exclude pre-existing conditions that people have and they can cap the amount of coverage they provide,” Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway declared in the written statement. “Because many people will need more coverage than these plans offer, what consumers end up paying out of their own pocket could easily surpass any savings from low premiums.”

Even though Trump’s rule change allows for 12-month plans – with the extension possibility – Colorado law prohibits any short-term plans that last longer than six months, which makes them even less of a bargain here.

Worse still, anyone carrying one of these plans who is then injured in an accident might not be fully covered. And even the shortest of hospital stays can quickly eat up the limited coverage offered by these plans.

“Short terms plans can be problematic for consumers,” explained Debra Judy, Policy Director at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “The lack of coverage for pre-existing conditions, the annual and lifetime limits, the benefit exclusions – these are all factors that will leave consumers exposed to high medical bills. Any consumer considering a short-term plan should be aware of the severe limitations of such coverage.”

These plans might have their uses, but for most Coloradoans they trade-off is hardly worth it. Contact the injury lawyers at Burg Simpson Colorado for help by calling 303-792-5595 or complete our Free Case Evaluation Form now.

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