How Trump Is Undermining Obamacare and What It Means for Consumers

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How will President Trump's recent executive order affect the health insurance markets? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and Co-Founder of Policygenius, on Quora:

Donald Trump wanted Obamacare completely repealed, and when he didn’t get that he decided to weaken the law instead. His recent actions have basically encouraged health association plans and weakened certain ACA requirements for essential health benefits. He also announced he would loosen rules around providing birth control, and would stop making cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies meant to subsidize copay and deductible discounts to low-income Americans. All three moves can — or have — affected insurance markets.

Health associations, for instance, allow groups to come together to have the same purchasing power as large companies. But the plans a person can buy through one aren’t required to cover the same robust benefits as an ACA plan. So the fear is that these less comprehensive — and therefore cheaper — health association plans might lure younger and healthier people away from ACA exchanges. Without healthy people to subsidize sicker people, the market could destabilize, sending prices skyrocketing.

The essential health benefits standardized coverage for health insurance plans. You could buy any plan and know, for instance, that it covered maternity care. Weakening these requirements — or pushing people toward plans that aren’t subject to them — is making shopping for plans more confusing. It could also make it more expensive. For instance, if insurers don’t have to cover maternity care, they could charge more for plans that do.

Finally, Trump’s decision to stop cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments has already influenced the 2018 Obamacare marketplace, mostly by forcing insurers to raise premiums to make up for the subsidies the government is no longer paying them. But it hasn’t been all bad news for consumers: Many states asked insurers to increase premiums solely on Silver plans, which are most popular among consumers who qualify for subsidies. That, interestingly, has made more robust Gold plans cheaper in some states for people who don’t get subsidies.

Again, there are a lot of moving parts here, but the big takeaway is, it’s even more important to comparison shop for a healthcare plan this year. The best plan for you this year might look a lot different than the plan you chose last year.

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