Trump Order Could Lower Health Costs for Some — but Is That a Good Thing?

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Donald Trump speaks at a conference
Christopher Halloran /

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday that could substantially lower health insurance premiums for millions.

However, cheaper coverage might come at a high cost in the form of reduced benefits, critics say. And for millions of other consumers, premium costs eventually could spike as a result of the order.

According to a New York Times report, Trump’s order requires three Cabinet agencies to create rules expanding access to health insurance policies that could be sold by trade associations to members. It also requests rules that would allow commercial insurers to offer short-term medical coverage to individuals and families.

According to the Times:

Mr. Trump’s order could eventually make it easier for small businesses to band together and buy insurance through new entities known as association health plans, which could be created by business and professional groups. A White House official said these health plans “could potentially allow American employers to form groups across state lines” — a goal championed by Mr. Trump and many other Republicans.

Health policies offered under the new rules are likely to be less expensive than health plans currently available under the Affordable Care Act. But they also would offer fewer benefits and protections than the plans that have been available as part of the 2010 legislation, more commonly known as “Obamacare.”

Critics say the new polices could leave consumers who purchase such plans in danger of being inadequately covered, as the new policies would be exempt from “benefits requirements, limits on consumers’ yearly and lifetime costs, and (a) ban on charging more to customers who have been sick,” according to the Washington Post. They also note other potential negative effects of Trump’s order. According to the Post:

Critics warn that young and healthy people who use relatively little insurance will gravitate to those plans because of their lower price tags, leaving older and sicker customers concentrated in ACA marketplaces with spiking rates.

However things shake out, don’t expect changes anytime soon. According to ABC News:

The changes Trump hopes to bring about could take months or even longer, according to administration officials who outlined the order for reporters Thursday morning. The proposals may not be finalized in time to affect coverage for 2019, let alone next year.

That’s because the proposal must now go through a process of public notice and comment, which can take a long time.

What do you think of the president’s executive order? Sound off by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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