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How the New Healthcare Executive Order Will Affect Employees

On October 12, 2017, President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that will have wide-reaching implications on various aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. According to the president, the action was meant to begin the process of repealing and replacing the legislation after several efforts to do so failed in Congress over the past nine months.

With the order, Trump aims to make low-premium plans more widely available, pushing for increased access to association healthcare plans. It may also allow employers in the same line of work as one another to come together and offer joint healthcare plans to employees—even if those employers are based in different states.

Furthermore, the order pushes to expand coverage for limited-duration plans individuals could get in certain situations, such as if they miss the open enrollment deadline or lose their employment.

Response from experts and the public

The reaction to the latest executive order has been mixed, with the split occurring mostly along partisan lines. Proponents of the move by the president say the order will allow for more choices for the average person and increase competition in the healthcare market. Critics, however, say the effects could lead to a destabilization of individual and small group healthcare markets.

Healthcare experts have also offered their opinions. Tom Nickels, the executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, said the executive order will allow for insurance plans that “cover fewer benefits and offer fewer consumer protections,” and that Americans with pre-existing conditions would have few, if any, affordable options.

David Barbe, the president of the American Medical Association, said the AMA supports competition in the healthcare market, but has concerns related to the executive order’s proposal to expand association plan access and allow short-term plans to cover longer time periods. He believes this could weaken protections currently in place for patients.

What employers can expect

The way the order will affect employers varies depending on the organization’s size and industry. Most large employers and their employees are unlikely to see much of a change to their healthcare coverage.

The biggest difference is likely to be seen for employees of smaller companies who either cannot afford to provide health insurance or do not receive a high level of coverage. Small employers might have more options to help employees get healthcare coverage by funding an HRA or helping to connect them with an association plan.

Individuals who continue to seek healthcare through the ACA marketplace will likely face higher costs of coverage as healthier people begin to leave the marketplace.