President Donald Trump bragged about “record business” for the new health insurance plans created under a federal rule which hasn’t been implemented. In fact, since December 2017, Trump has periodically, and very prematurely, boasted that imaginary “millions” of Americans are already signing up to be part of these association health plans.
The new federal rule takes effect on August 20th, and it doesn’t apply to the association plans until September 1st.
At a July 26th roundtable discussion held in Iowa, the president congratulated Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who leads the department responsible for the upcoming rule on the association health plans. Trump lied that he heard there’s been “record business” as well as “incredible” numbers for the plans that he falsely claimed, “just opened about two months ago.”
Trump, July 26: Alex Acosta has come up with incredible health care plans through the Department of Labor — association plans where you associate, where you have groups and you get tremendous health care at a very small cost. … And, Alex, I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing. We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible. Numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster. So you’re getting great health care for, really, a fraction of the cost. Highly competitive. … And it’s at very small prices. So I want to thank you. The job you did on that is incredible.
An association health plan is created by some group of employers, like those in similar industries. The Labor Department was working on a federal rule to grow and change the regulation for these plans and gave its final rule on June 19th.
As we said earlier, the rule states that it won’t start applying to association plans up until Sept. 1. Yet, the stupid president has been lying about those imaginary “millions of people … signing up” the last several months. For instance:
Trump, rally in Montana, July 5: We are allowing businesses to join forces to buy better health care for less money through association health plans. They just came out two weeks ago and they cross state lines. … Millions of people are already signing up.
Trump, rally in North Dakota, June 27: So, we have, through our Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, we just came out with the association plan, which is phenomenal. Millions and millions of people are signing up.
Trump, interview with the New York Times, Dec. 28, 2017: Now here’s the good news. We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. (Earlier in the interview, Trump says, “That’s gonna be millions and millions of people,” but then switches to the present tense.)
It’s possible that millions of Americans will — eventually — sign up to have these plans with the new regulations.
Under the new rule, insurance plans that are offered by associations can’t deny coverage or even charge more due to health status. But they don’t have to cover those important 10 essential health benefits which the Affordable Care Act wisely requires of the plans on either the small-group market or the individual market. Also, the association plans can price plans based on either age, gender, or occupation if they want.
Therefore, those plans might be cheaper than some other options available vie the individual market, however, that could be due to them offering more limited benefits. CBO expects that healthier individuals will be attracted to those plans.
“Both employers with healthier workforces and individuals who are relatively healthy and have income too high to qualify for premium tax credits for health insurance would find such plans appealing because the premiums would be lower than those for insurance products that comply with the current rules governing the small-group and nongroup markets,” said CBO with its May report.