Health Care Policy Reform: Helping the Uninsured

Editor’s note: One of the nation’s premier experts on health care policy, Grace-Marie Turner, sent this email out today with the following links:

In two new op-eds this week, Brian Blase and Doug Badger explain how Trump administration policies—far from sabotaging health insurance markets—are giving consumers new options and making coverage more affordable.

New Insurance Numbers Show the Importance of the Trump Administration’s Health-Care Reforms
By Brian Blase
National Review Online, September 11, 2019

Far from proving charges that the administration has “sabotaged” Obamacare, new Census Bureau data provide compelling support for the president’s actions.

New numbers released this week show a sizable increase in the number of Americans without health insurance—from 26 million in 2017 to 28 million in 2018.

Democrats were quick to argue the Trump administration is sabotaging Obamacare. The truth is that the Trump administration is working aggressively to increase options for consumers to get more affordable, flexible insurance coverage, as Brian explains in his new paper, through:

  • Short-term, limited-duration plans
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements
  • Association Health Plans (which Democrats have sued to block)
  • Flexibility for states to do a better job of helping those with pre-existing conditions, and other actions.


Obamacare Caused Premiums to Spike. Here’s How States Are Lowering Them Again
By Doug Badger
The Daily Signal, September 10, 2019

Throughout much of last year, critics of the White House darkly predicted that Congress’ repeal of the tax penalty on the uninsured, coupled with an administration rule lifting federal restrictions on short-term policies, would lead to double-digit premium increases in 2019.

The good news is that none of that has happened. To the contrary, average premiums for “benchmark” plans—policies whose premiums are used in calculating premium subsidies—declined by about 1% in 2019, for the first time in the program’s history.

The decline was driven by seven states (Alaska, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Wisconsin) that obtained waivers from the Trump administration to deviate from certain Obamacare mandates.

Premiums in those states fell by a median of more than 7%, while median premiums in the other 44 states and the District of Columbia rose by more than 3%.

The message for policymakers is clear: Innovation by states is the key to more affordable health insurance.