The Party of Prohibition
To protect Obamacare, House Democrats have passed a resolution that will kick hundreds of thousands of Americans off their insurance plans.
HR 1010, sponsored by Representative Kathy Castor (D- FL) and cosponsored by 25 members of her party, is a prohibition of short-term limited duration insurance plans that were put in place by the Obama administration and extended from 3 months up to 36 months by the current administration.
Since the release of the rule from HHS.gov, some in the media have claimed that these short-term plans are fraught with fraud, too hard to understand for the average consumer, or just a tactic to harm the ACA. Despite all the misinformation attempts, millions of families flocked to these types of plans because the unsubsidized portion of their plan through the ACA marketplace rivaled their rent or mortgage—making the ACA unaffordable.
Short-term plans offered financial relief while offering some protection in the case of a catastrophic event. This hasn’t stopped Speaker Pelosi and members of her party from a full-court press on these options that are now being held responsible for the lower enrollment in the ACA.
But according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it is projected that “enacting the legislation would result in roughly 1.5 million fewer people purchasing short-term plans each year over the 2020-2029 period. Of those, more than 500,000 would instead purchase nongroup coverage through the marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, a small number would obtain coverage through an employer, and about 500,000 would become uninsured.”
Those who would be uninsured include people with pre-existing conditions who would not be able to afford any of the expensive unsubsidized plans under the ACA.
In addition to the attempts in D.C. to eliminate choice, the states have lodged legal battles against both association health plans (AHP) and short-term limited duration insurance.
But those plans meet the very real needs of many American families.
As CMS explains, “Short-term, limited-duration insurance, which is not required to comply with federal market requirements governing individual health insurance coverage, can provide coverage for people transitioning between different coverage options, such as an individual who is between jobs, or a student taking time off from school, as well as for middle-class families without access to subsidized ACA plans. Access to these plans has become increasingly important as premiums have escalated for individual market plans, and affordable choices for individuals and families have dwindled.”
Even more than the short-term plans, association health plans (AHPs) have seen tremendous growth among small businesses, whose employees often struggle to find affordable coverage options. According to the CBO report, the scale provided by businesses banding together means AHPs can offer more options at a better price. The CBO goes on to say, “Some four million additional Americans will enroll in, and benefit from, AHPs within a few years. Among the enrollees will be about 400,000 Americans who are currently uninsured.”
Regardless of the success of these plans and the relief they have given those Americans who were previously uninsured due to cost or presence of pre-existing conditions, Democrats at the state and federal level have proven their intent to prohibit choice in the name of politics.
What’s more important—saving a broken system, or letting Americans keep the coverage that works for them?
David Balat is the director of Right on Healthcare at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Follow David on Twitter at @DavidBalatHC