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Unpacking the Executive Order on Healthcare - Where Do We Go Right Now?

Oct 13, 2017

By Susan Rider

Thousands of Hoosiers covered under the Affordable Care Act are wondering “What now?” in the wake of President Trump’s issuance of the “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States”. 

This executive order is designed towards moving the present healthcare system in several new directions:

  1. Allowing the sale of insurance across state lines: The Secretary of Labor is directed to expand Association Health Plans, allowing employers in the same line of business anywhere in the country to join together to offer healthcare coverage to employees. 
  2. Expanding short-term limited duration insurance (the current limitation is three months; the EO directs to Secretaries of Health Services, Treasury, and Labor to lengthen that period.
  3. Allowing employers to contribute more to Health Reimbursement Arrangements (employer-funded accounts that reimburse employees for healthcare expenses, including deductibles and copayments.

The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) approves the EO, describing it as an “attempt to improve access, increase choices, and low costs for healthcare”.

According to InsuranceNewsNet, "Critics of the order warn that it could “undermine the stability of the health insurance markets by opening up skimpier, cheaper plans that would divert healthy people away from ACA plans."

In an interview by the Indiana Statehouse Newsroom, colleague Jonathan Mayo and I were asked, “What does the president’s executive order on health care mean for you? How’s it going to impact you?” My reply was to tell people to "not freak out yet”. Jonathan added that, if you have insurance through your job, there is no change because of the EO. While the executive order would allow people to buy insurance across state lines, there is no plan of that sort available for Hoosiers to buy right now. 

With open enrollment for Obamacare starting November 1st of this year, it’s important for consumers to work with a broker in time to make decisions regarding the healthcare options available now. Meanwhile, the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services have been gives 60 days to act, to propose regulations and rules available for public comment.

Meanwhile, employers and employees are asking, “What about open enrollment for 2018?” At this time, nothing in the Executive Order will affect 2018 open enrollment. “It must be emphasized that this is only an executive order. It is not a change in the law or even in regulations. It is a direction to draft rules,” writes Timothy Jost in his Health Affairs Blog. At the same time, the pressure is on for federal regulators to “do something” to increase competition, expand plan options, and keep prices under control, America’s Health Care Plan reassures healthcare consumers. 

At Gregory & Appel, where our focus is reducing your healthcare costs through effective benefit plans, compliance, and health management, we will continue to watch, wait, and support our clients with up-to-the-minute legislative updates.