Biden Administration Finalizes Rule Curbing Use of Short-Term Health Plans

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it had finalized a new regulation that curbs the use of short-term health insurance plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act, reversing a move by the Trump administration to give consumers more access to cheaper but skimpier plans.

Under the new rule, the short-term plans will be able to last for only 90 days, with an option for consumers to make a one-month extension.

In 2018, the Trump administration issued a rule allowing the plans to last for just under a year, with the option of renewing them for a total duration of up to three years. Previously, under an Obama-era policy, the plans could last no longer than three months.

The plans, often with lower premiums than those found on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, do not have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. They are also free from the health law’s requirement that plans offer a minimum set of benefits, like prescription drug coverage and maternity care.

Democrats deride the so-called short-term, limited-duration plans as “junk” insurance, and the Obama-era policy was meant to ensure that healthy consumers could not use that option to sidestep the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, leaving a sicker pool of customers enrolling in the comprehensive plans offered under the health law.

The White House cast the new rule as a way to fortify the marketplaces. In a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Neera Tanden, President Biden’s domestic policy adviser, said that 45 million Americans were now covered through the marketplaces or the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. More than 20 million people signed up for plans on the marketplaces during the most recent open enrollment period.

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