"Skinny" Healthcare is Legal 👨‍⚕️

Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Trump sidesteps Obamacare rules

Yesterday, the Trump administration issued new rules to govern health insurance plans. Following through on an executive order from last October, Trump made short-term, minimal-coverage health insurance plans legal. These 12-month plans will be renewable for up to 3 years.

No more “essential health benefits”

Under Obamacare, most health insurance plans had to cover “essential health benefits” - things like maternity care and mental health. In addition, plans could not impose “coverage caps” on how much an insurer would pay for a patient’s care or deny coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. Trump's new rules allow for the creation of plans without the Obamacare requirements mentioned above. They can also deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

The right sees the rule change as a positive step toward making health insurance more affordable. Articles from the right lay out how much insurance premiums have risen under Obamacare (21% in 2017 and 27% in 2018) - and argue that Obamacare’s “onerous” regulations are to blame. Now that patients can choose more modest coverage, the right argues, more Americans will be covered and all Americans will save on healthcare costs.

The left sees the rule change as an effort to dismantle Obamacare. The left argues that allowing younger, healthier consumers to buy limited insurance will drive up premiums for the rest of insurance buyers - especially the sick, who need it most. Finally, some left-leaning articles list the organizations that have opposed the move including health insurance industry groups, hospitals, doctors and patient advocacy groups.

Does this mean Obamacare is dead?

Not exactly. However, the Trump administration has defanged it, for sure, through various steps. The latest step is this rule change, but before that the administration slashed advertising meant to attract patients to the Obamacare marketplace. And last year, the administration repealed the individual mandate to purchase insurance in the tax reform bill. Nonetheless, Obamacare is still the law of the land and the bulk of its regulations are in place. Despite the president’s contempt for the law, Obamacare hasn’t been repealed and it doesn't seem like it will anytime soon. 

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