- The Department of Labor unveiled its proposed rule that would pave the way for association health plans.
- These plans would allow self-employed individuals and small businesses to join to get health insurance plans, instead of obtaining the insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
- The introduction of association health plans could make the Obamacare marketplace more unstable.
The Trump administration has taken another step to dismantle one of the key parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The Department of Labor on Thursday unveiled its proposed rule for association health plans, a move put in motion by the executive order President Donald Trump signed in October.
Association health plans are set up to allow people who get their insurance through the Obamacare’s individual or small-group insurance plans to join together to buy insurance at a better rate. Under the Department of Labor’s proposal, the plans would also not be subject to certain Obamacare regulations, which could help make them cheaper.
“The goal of the rulemaking is to expand access to affordable health coverage, especially among small employers and self-employed individuals, by removing undue restrictions on the establishment and maintenance of association health plans under ERISA,” or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the department wrote in the proposed rule.
Experts say these plans could remove healthy people from the individual marketplace. This would in turn drive up the cost of those plans because the group of people in the Obamacare marketplace would be sicker. The more expensive the plans get, the more unstable the Obamacare marketplace becomes.
“Loosely regulated association plans could charge lower premiums to healthy people, effectively leaving ACA marketplaces as high-risk pools,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-policy think tank, tweeted in October after the executive order.
And because the association health plans wouldn’t be as regulated, the plans could offer more limited coverage than plans covered by ACA regulations, Politico reports.
The move to institute association health plans is part of the executive branch’s attempt to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature legislation after Congress’s past attempts at comprehensive healthcare reform faltered in 2017.