Although it has no immediate effect, the executive order the President signed yesterday morning instructs several federal agencies to consider proposals that could destabilize the individual insurance markets established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The executive order instructs relevant agencies to propose regulations that would:
- Expand the use of association health plans, which allow small businesses to group together to purchase health insurance;
- Allow more people to enroll in short-term limited duration insurance, which are exempt from ACA consumer protections, for longer periods of time; and
- Allow the sale of health insurance across state lines.
The expansion of association and short-term limited duration health plans would both create loopholes for younger, healthier consumers to purchase one of these plans instead of plans offered through the Marketplace. If younger, healthier people leave the Marketplace, premiums will rise for consumers that remain and may become unaffordable.
Selling insurance across state lines presents a different problem, especially for states like New York. New York has worked really hard to pass insurance regulations that protect consumers. Insurance sales across state lines would essentially allow insurance companies to choose their regulators, which would make insurance less available and less accountable to the needs of New Yorkers and consumers across the country.
If federal agencies do propose these rules as the President instructs, there will be an official notice of proposed rulemaking and at least a 30-day comment period before any new regulation would go into effect. It is therefore unlikely that any changes will take place before 2018.
This does not affect the upcoming open enrollment period, which will begin on November 1. If you or someone you know needs help enrolling in health insurance, please call (888) 614.5400 for in-person assistance in your area. Don’t forget, consumers enrolling in Medicaid, the Essential Plan, and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round.
You can check out additional resources on the executive order here.