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President Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week that could have a substantial impact on Obamacare. The order would make changes to how federal agencies handle association health plans by reversing some Obama-era regulations. The Wall Street Journal reported on the plan Saturday:
The order is aimed at expanding insurance options for Americans who buy coverage on their own or work for a small employer, and would include broad instructions for agencies to explore ways to loosen regulations and potentially lower premiums, as well as looking at three specific areas of health insurance…
Mr. Trump will order three agencies, the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, to take steps to make it easier for people to band together and buy insurance through “association health plans,” the official said.
Obamacare mandates certain essential benefits which tend to make insurance more expensive and leave insurers with few ways to cut costs (except through narrowing networks and raising deductibles). Association health plans currently operate under the same rules, but exempting them from those rules would allow for less comprehensive and therefore cheaper insurance options. Vox says it could “gut Obamacare.”
The order would, in effect, exempt many association health plans, groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance, from core Obamacare requirements like the coverage of certain essential health benefits. It would potentially allow individuals to join these plans too, which would put individual insurance marketplaces in serious peril by drawing younger and healthier people away from them.
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