AARP warns Trump's short-term insurance plans will hit older Americans hardest

A nurse holding the hands of an elderly patient
AARP says older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions will be hit hardest by the Trump administration's proposal to expand short-term health plans. (Getty/Rawpixel)

An advocacy group for the elderly is warning that the Trump administration's expansion of short-term limited duration insurance plans will result in higher premiums for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.

Late last month, the White House announced plans to expand coverage under short-term insurance to up to 12 months which critics, including the AARP, say will result in much higher premiums for those who buy individual policies through the ACA marketplace. 

"Short-term plans, with their skimpy coverage and lower price, are likely to siphon off healthier people from the market," AARP said last week. "This means that older people and those with greater health needs who remain in the individual health insurance market will have to pay more for their coverage."

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Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), short-term plans were only available under specific circumstances, such as when people are briefly unemployed, and coverage was only available for a maximum of three months. The limits were put in place due to reports that the plans were being abused by insurers, AARP said. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has said that expanding the short-term plans would be a boon for middle-class families who are priced out of ACA plans. During last month's announcement, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma cited agency estimates that the policy would pull just 100,000 to 200,000 people off the individual marketplace.

RELATED: Urban Institute: Short-term plan expansion would boost premiums for ACA plans by 18% in 2019

The Urban Institute estimates the proposal, along with recent regulatory changes including the repeal of minimum essential health insurance coverage, will increase premiums by about 16.6% next year. The AARP estimated those premiums could be about $2,000 for a 60-year-old who buys a silver plan.

Short duration plans do not need to comply with age rating protections under the ACA. As a result, insurers would be able to charge older adults a much higher premium or even deny them coverage based on their age, the group said. 

Additionally, short-term plans are exempt from covering individuals with preexisting conditions. Forty percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 have a pre-existing condition, according to AARP.