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Trump to expand access to cheaper, short-term health plans

Trump at the White House in September. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump will issue a new executive order this week rolling back a handful of Obama-era health care policies and expanding access to cheaper, less comprehensive insurance plans, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What it means: Association health plans and short-term insurance function similarly: They create lower-cost, less comprehensive options that are most likely to appeal to healthy people.

The details of the order, according to WSJ, are that it will:

  • Direct federal agencies to expand access to association health plans, which would be exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act's coverage requirements.
  • Expand access to short-term health plans, which also cover a more limited set of benefits, with a lower premium. President Obama limited those plans to 90 days; Trump will likely allow people to buy them for up to a year.
  • Allow consumers to use tax-preferred health savings accounts to pay their premiums.

The fear — among Democrats as well as insurance companies — is that those healthier consumers would choose these new plans and leave only sicker, more expensive consumers buying comprehensive coverage through the ACA's exchanges. If that happens, expect insurers to raise their rates or look for the exit.

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