HHS Rolls Out New, Affordable, Temporary Health Coverage Option -- For Some, Not All

By Susan Jones | August 1, 2018 | 8:29 AM EDT

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (File Photo/Screen capture)

(CNSNews.com) - The Trump administration on Wednesday issued a final rule to help Americans get short-term, limited-duration, affordable health insurance that is designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage.

The new plan is exempt from the Obamacare requirements that apply to individual health insurance plans, and it comes as Democrats are trying to make health insurance a campaign issue. ("We want to expand access to Medicare," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told a news conference in June.)

“Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans have seen insurance premiums rise and choices dwindle,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “President Trump is bringing more affordable insurance options back to the market, including through allowing the renewal of short-term plans. These plans aren’t for everyone, but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system.”

 

The new option covers an initial period of less than 12 months, and, taking into account any extensions, a maximum duration of no longer than 36 months in total. It will increase choices for Americans faced with escalating premiums and dwindling options in the individual insurance market, HHS said.

Appearing on "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday, Azar called the new plan "really exciting" for some Americans, but not for everyone:

These plans that we are rolling out today can deliver affordable options for people at 50- to 80-percent lower cost than what the Obamacare exchange insurance options have.

This is relief, perhaps, for millions of Americans, because they've been left behind by the Affordable Care Act's false promises that they would have insurance -- everybody would have affordable insurance. It would cover every doctor they wanted, et cetera. So it left 28 million Americans behind without access to affordable insurance or without choices of insurance, with premiums doubling -- even before the president took office -- in the Obamacare market.

So these are called short-term limited duration plans. And you can get them up to 12 months. And what we are doing is allowing those to be renewable up to three years. Now they're different. You have to qualify for this type insurance. You have to go through what's called medical underwriting where the insurer would have to decide to take you. They may not cover every condition.

But it's a really important option for a lot of people in transition between jobs. Those economy workers who work on their own, a independent contractors. Folks struggling with three part-time jobs and don't get insurance from any one employer -- really important option. That's what we are about is putting the individual and the states back in the driver's seat here.

Azar said the new plan must disclose what they do and do not cover, so "people go in with their eyes open."

"What if you are in rural area and only have one Obamacare plan there and it doesn't cover the hospital or doctors in your area?" he asked. "This may be an option for you also. For many who have preexisting conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them. We're just providing more options and putting them in the driver's seat."

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