U.S. health officials seek to extend short-term health coverage

By Sommer Brokaw  |  Updated Feb. 20, 2018 at 4:04 PM
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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's administration proposed new policy changes Tuesday to expand short-term health insurance for Americans.

The proposed rule would extend short-term coverage to up to 12 months. A previous rule under the former President Barack Obama had limited short-term insurance to a maximum of 90 days.

The change is a direct result of Trump's order in October that instructed federal departments to consider extending short-term insurance to promote healthcare choice and competition.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the Obama-era rule "limited consumer choice" and doubled average U.S. premiums from 2013 to 2017 in health plans on the Federal Health Insurance Exchange.

"Half of U.S. counties have only one insurance carrier to choose from," the agency said in a news release.

Short-term insurance is also cheaper than an unsubsidized ACA-compliant plan -- $124 per month compared to $393 per month, CMS said. The difference is the short-term plans can exclude patients with pre-existing conditions -- a provision expressly prohibited by the ACA.

Short-term plans also may not cover free preventive care, mental health or prescription drugs.

CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days. The proposed rule is scheduled to be published Wednesday on the federal register. Once finalized, it is intended to increase competition and access to lower cost care.

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