Trump administration makes it easier to buy alternative to Obamacare

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Officials unveiled a final rule that will make it easier to obtain coverage through short-term health insurance plans, which don’t have to adhere to the law’s consumer protections.

The move would reverse an Obama administration decision to limit the duration of short-term plans to no more than 90 days in order to make them less attractive. Insurers will soon be allowed to sell these policies for just under a year. They can be renewed for up to 36 months, though that renewal isn’t guaranteed.

Administration officials say the short-term plans will provide a cheaper health insurance alternative for those who can’t afford to buy coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.

“We fully recognize that these products are not necessarily for everyone, but we do think they will provide an affordable option to many, many people who’ve been priced out of the current market under the Obamacare regulations,” said Randy Pate, a deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

But patient advocates and health policy experts argue that these policies provide only skimpy coverage and will undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Short-term plans could roil the Obamacare market by drawing healthier consumers away from the exchanges and pushing up the premiums for those who remain.

The plans, which have been available for years and were originally designed to fill a temporary gap in coverage, will likely be cheaper than Obamacare policies. But that’s because they are allowed to exclude those with pre-existing conditions and base rates on an applicant’s medical history, unlike Obamacare plans.

Officials with the Oklahoma Insurance Department say the plans could be 50 percent cheaper than other plans.

“President Trump is delivering on his promise to bring down the cost of health insurance for Americans,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said. “We believe building a strong insurance market requires giving people as many affordable options as possible, not just Washington-dictated plans. Short-term, limited-duration insurance is another step in the right direction.”

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