crop of new health insurance plans enabled under regulations from the Trump administration appears more consumer-friendly and less like “junk” insurance than Democrats originally charged.
Chambers of commerce and trade associations have launched more than two dozen of these “association health plans” in 13 states in the seven months since the Labor Department finalized new rules making it easier for small businesses to band together to buy health coverage in the same way large employers do. And there are initial signs the plans are offering generous benefits and premiums lower than can be found in the Obamacare marketplaces.
President Trump billed the new rules as one of several ways to provide consumers with cheaper coverage options than they could find in the Obamacare marketplaces, prompting complaints by Democrats that he was undermining consumer protections laid out in the Affordable Care Act. There’s indeed plenty of evidence the administration is trying to weaken the ACA, including the Justice Department’s refusal to defend it in court.
But when it comes to these new association health plans, they appear — at least so far — to offer benefits comparable to most workplace plans and haven’t tried to discriminate against patients with preexisting conditions, according to an analysis released today by Kev Coleman, a former analyst at the insurance information website HealthPocket.
“We’re not seeing skinny plans,” said Coleman, who founded a website last year with information on association health plans. “We’re seeing the regular doctor care, we’re seeing emergency room care, we’re seeing mental health coverage.”