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OPINION

Why Does 'Unifier' Biden Want to End Affordable Healthcare?

unaffordable affordable healthcare

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Sally Pipes By Tuesday, 09 April 2024 05:29 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The Biden administration is about to effectively outlaw some of the most affordable health plans on the market and cast scores of people into the ranks of the uninsured.

At issue is a rule the administration finalized last month.

The rule will bar short-term health plans from lasting any more than three months and forbid insurers from renewing them for any more than one month.

The Biden rule undoes a 2018 Trump administration rule that allowed short-term plans to last up to 364 days and be renewed for up to 36 months. Some states had more restrictive rules.

The Biden administration says it's cracking down on "junk insurance."

But "junk" is in the eye of the beholder.

Many Americans have opted for short-term plans instead of those for sale through the exchanges because short-term plans can be a fraction of the price.

They're less expensive because they're not subject to the Affordable Care Act's mandates, including its requirements that insurers sell to all comers and cover 10 "essential" health benefits.

The plans can also engage in medical underwriting — they can set premiums in line with an applicant's health risks, unlike insurers selling on Obamacare's exchanges.

Many people would gladly purchase coverage that does not cover maternity care or substance abuse treatment.

They simply want a bare-bones policy that will protect them in the event of an emergency— or that can cover them cheaply while they're in college or are between jobs. They cannot buy one through the exchanges.

Similarly, many people in good health would benefit from medical underwriting. Indeed, 1% of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 account for one-fourth of the nation's health expenditures.

The bottom 50% of the population by health spending accounts for just 3% of our nation's total health bill.

Short-term plan premiums would likely be a lot lower for that bottom half than those for exchange coverage would be.

Further, it's not accurate to classify all short-term plans as "junk." Some cover a comprehensive suite of benefits.

In the 16 states where short-term coverage was fully available in 2019, the median number of plans that covered mental health care was 12, according to a study published by the Manhattan Institute. The median number offering prescription drug benefits was seven.

Narrow HMO provider networks are often the norm for exchange plans. A study published by the Government Accountability Office found that nearly two-thirds of insurers selling through the federally facilitated HealthCare.gov exchange were "not in compliance with network adequacy standards." Exchange enrollees often lack access to best-in-class providers — or may find it difficult to secure an appointment with a doctor who takes their insurance.

Short-term plans, by contrast, "tend to be PPOs that offer broader access to providers," according to that Manhattan Institute study.

And because short-term plan premiums are lower than those for exchange plans offering similar levels of coverage, people may be able to upgrade to more comprehensive short-term plans for about what their premiums on the exchanges would be for a less generous plan.

Given these advantages, it's no wonder millions of Americans have opted for short-term plans over pricey exchange coverage since the Trump administration expanded access to them in 2018.

That's also why the Biden administration is trying to regulate them out of existence.

It wants to force everyone into the exchanges.

Every beneficiary of a short-term plan is someone the administration would rather have dependent on Obamacare's government-run marketplaces for coverage.

It's but one more step on the left's desired path toward single-payer healthcare.

Not everyone will comply. Some whose short-term coverage expires may have to wait until the next open enrollment period starts in November — and so go without insurance for months.

Others may decide that exchange coverage is still too expensive, even if they qualify for taxpayer assistance with their premiums.

And so the Biden rule could cause many people who were previously satisfied with short-term coverage to become uninsured.

At an event last month in North Carolina, President Biden and Vice President Harris touted their record "making healthcare more affordable and accessible." Those who have relied on short-term plans for affordable coverage over the past six years would beg to differ.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All," (Encounter Books 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes. Read Sally Pipes' Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


SallyPipes
Last week in North Carolina, President Biden and Vice President Harris touted their record "making healthcare more affordable and accessible." Those who have relied on short-term plans for affordable coverage would beg to differ.
obamacare, exchanges
749
2024-29-09
Tuesday, 09 April 2024 05:29 AM
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