Hospital group warns Trump's executive order could weaken insurance markets

Hospital group warns Trump's executive order could weaken insurance markets
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The largest hospital association warned that an executive order signed by President Trump on Thursday could destabilize insurance markets and make coverage unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. 

"Today’s Executive Order will allow health insurance plans that cover fewer benefits and offer fewer consumer protections," said Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, in a statement.

"No one can predict future health care needs with complete certainty and such plans could put patients at risk when care is needed most."

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Trump’s order seeks to expand the ability of small businesses and other groups to band together to buy health insurance through what are known as association health plans. It also lifts limits on short-term health insurance plans.

Because both of these types of plans do not have to follow the same ObamaCare rules, such as minimum benefits standards, experts warn that healthier people could join these cheaper plans and leave only sicker people in ObamaCare plans. That could lead to a spike in premiums for ObamaCare plans or to insurers simply dropping out of the market.

"In addition, these provisions could destabilize the individual and small group markets, leaving millions of Americans who need comprehensive coverage to manage chronic and other pre-existing conditions, as well as protection against unforeseen illness and injury, without affordable options," Nickels said. 

"The AHA is committed to ensuring that individuals and small businesses have affordable, comprehensive health care coverage options, and we encourage the Administration to achieve this goal without sacrificing critical consumer protections by stabilizing the individual and small group markets."