Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced the Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act (S. 2507). The legislation creates an escape hatch from Obamacare’s regulatory structure by expanding access to short-term, limited-duration health plans.
In October 2016, the Obama administration specified that short-term, limited-duration health plans could not last longer than three months, including any renewals. This was an effort to force more people to buy Obamacare policies.
On Feb. 20, 2018, the Trump administration took an important first step to restore access to these more affordable health plans. Barrasso’s bill goes even further in expanding this health insurance option.
“By building on the Trump administration action, Congress has an opportunity to truly expand health care choice and affordability,” said Barrasso. “These less expensive health plans are free from Obamacare’s burdensome mandates, and are an important option for many Americans priced out of the one-size-fits-all plans offered today. It gives them the freedom to choose the coverage that works best for them.”
The Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act expands the duration and utility of these plans. Specifically, it would:
- Define short-term plans in law to allow a maximum coverage period of 364 days
- Make the plans “guaranteed renewable” at the option of the applicant
With these two standards in place, short-term limited-duration plans would be a viable option for health insurance coverage for that is free from Obamacare’s regulations. Including a definition of the plans’ coverage period in the law guards against a future administration shortening their duration through regulation. Making the plans guaranteed renewable means if people want to stay in their plan, they can renew it without going through the whole application process again or being dropped from their plan.
The recently passed Republican tax law included what amounts to a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. This allows people to buy these non-compliant plans without being forced to pay a penalty because Obamacare doesn’t deem them good enough.