On October 12th President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) directing various departments to consider easing some health insurance rules related to small businesses, short-term health insurance policies and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs). Through the EO, the Administration aims to provide Americans with more affordable choices and allow greater control over their health care decisions. The EO provides guidance to various agencies, but does not make any immediate changes. Any details about potential changes will only be available once new or updated rules and guidance are released in response to the EO.
Later that evening he announced the administration will stop making federal payments for cost-sharing reductions. The acting secretary of Health and Human Services, Eric Hargan, released a notice confirming that the payments will cease immediately.
Association Health Plans – Under the EO, the Administration is directing the Department of Labor to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand access to Association Health Plans (AHPs) that will allow small businesses to purchase insurance collectively across state lines. The Administration believes a “broader consumer-friendly interpretation” of ERISA could allow for AHP expansions. By joining an AHP, small employers within the same line of business could purchase plans collectively that would follow large group ACA mandates. Such health plans would not fall under small group market rules.
AHPs, as currently defined, cannot exclude any employee from participating, cannot determine premium prices based on health status, and must follow community rating rules. AHPs must also comply with other ACA patient protections, such as offering coverage to dependent children up
to the age of 26, prohibiting annual or lifetime limits, and having zero cost-share for preventive services. These limitations could change as a result of the EO.
Short-term health plans – The tri-agencies are being asked to consider updating rules on short-term limited duration insurance to allow plans to last as long as 12 months and be renewable. These policies are not required to follow several of the ACA mandates, including covering Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), prohibiting annual limits, offering coverage for pre-existing conditions or ensuring Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs) are met. Currently, these policies can only be sold for periods of three months or less and cannot be renewed after a total of three months.
Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) – The tri-agencies are also directed to consider ways to expand the flexibility of HRAs. The Administration specifically focused on three HRA rules it wants the agencies to consider modifying: making employer HRA contributions tax deductible, allowing HRA funds to be used for premium reimbursement, and allowing HRAs to be used in conjunction with non-group coverage.
Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments – The ACA requires insurers to reduce cost-sharing for eligible, low-income individuals enrolled in silver plans through their local Marketplaces. This financial assistance is in addition to the Advance Premium Tax Credit. The Administration said because Congress has not appropriated funds for the CSRs, “the government cannot lawfully make the [CSR] payment.” This decision primarily affects insurers who will no longer be reimbursed for the CSRs but are required by law to offer them to eligible customers. As a result, customers who have reduced cost-sharing through the Marketplace should not see an immediate impact.
It is business as usual until the departments issue new regulations. It is most likely that there will be no impact on group plans until 2019. We will provide you with more detail as it becomes available. As always, contact your Brown & Brown Account team if you have any questions.
The information provided in this legislative update for our clients and colleagues is for general guidance only and is not intended to be, and does not constitute, tax or legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your tax and legal advisors for the interpretation or application of any laws for your particular circumstances and situation.