The White House is putting the finishing touches on an executive order that would expand health care options and allow individuals to band together and buy insurance beyond their state lines.  The new options would broaden instructions for agencies to explore loosening regulations and lowering premiums.

The order, which is expected to be signed sometime during the 2nd week in October, will be aimed at expanding insurance options for Americans who buy their own coverage or receive it through working at a small company.

The administration has suggests that selling insurance across state lines would trigger competition that would lower premiums for people buying their own policies. An AP spokesperson says the executive action would likely be signed on Thursday (10-19-17).

Under the action, membership groups could sponsor insurance plans that cost less since:

  • They wouldn’t have to offer the full menu of benefits required under the ACA
  • It remains unclear under the current law how the administration will overcome opposition from state insurance regulators, who see view the action as an end-run to avoid standards.
  • Legal challenges are expected

The draft order attempts to create willingness for Washington to work together on health care legislation.  It was unclear if the expected White House order could lead to changes broad enough and quick enough to help several million consumers facing higher 2018 premiums for their individual health insurance plans.

It typically takes government agencies several months to carry out presidential directives, since they must follow a notice-and-comment process. It is not clear how or even if this executive order could impact the 2018 market since the health plans have published their 2018 products/pricing already … and open enrollment begins in just three weeks – sign-up season for individual health insurance begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.

While nearly nine million consumers who receive tax credits under the current ACA law are protected from higher premiums, about 6.7 million other customers with individual coverage receive no subsidies and will bear the full brunt of cost increases that reach well into the double digits in many states.  This group middle-class, including self-employed business people and early retirees.