Health & Spirit

States weigh response to proposed short-term health plan rule

Mary Ellen McIntire, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Health & Fitness

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's proposal to increase how long consumers can maintain a short-term health insurance policy offers states an opportunity to either rebel or endorse the change.

While officials in some states are looking to reject the proposed rule -- which would allow people to be covered by a short-term, limited duration health plan for 364 days -- others have sought to codify the proposal in state law.

Short-terms plans are not required to meet the requirements of the 2010 health care law.

"They're not defined as health insurance, which is why they're sort of treated under a different framework" under federal law, said Sarah Lueck, a senior policy analyst at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "That doesn't mean that the state can't do something different."

Some states already have limitations on short-term policies, and they could take further steps to restrict them, experts say. They could set their own guidelines for how long people can be covered, require short-term plans to comply with all or some existing rules, set a minimum percentage of premium dollars that must be spent on patient care or improve communication with consumers.

States also have the ability to ban the sale of short-term plans outright.

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Any state that wants to take steps to affect their individual marketplace in 2019 must act quickly, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

For those who want to block short-term plans, it may not take much to deter companies from seeking to market such policies in their states, she said.

Requiring plans to cover preexisting conditions or spend a minimum amount of premiums on health care "may be enough in itself for a company to say 'I don't want to work in your state,' " Corlette said.

Such moves could be politically risky, even in states that are not controlled by Republicans, she said. The Trump administration is touting the sale of short-term policies as an avenue for consumers who don't receive financial assistance for health insurance to find less expensive options.


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