The Trump administration is expected to issue a rule on Tuesday that would make it easier for small businesses to unite and create health insurance plans that cost less but offer fewer benefits.
The new entities, called association health plans, would allow small-business owners, their employees, and other self-employed people to band together to buy or supply insurance in the large-group market, The New York Times reports. The plans would make companies exempt from some of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, like providing mental health care and maternity and newborn care.
President Trump said the association health plans could "provide more affordable health insurance options to many of Americans, including hourly wage earners, farmers and the employees of small businesses and entrepreneurs that fuel economic growth," according to the Times. About 11 million Americans could find coverage with the association health plans, according to the Labor Department, which would regulate the new entities as it does with other employee benefit plans.
Consumer groups and state officials have criticized the plans, saying the new entities will pull healthy people out of the ACA marketplace and increase the costs for people who need insurance, the Times reports. Opponents of the plans also fear they will attract mainly companies with younger and healthier employees, while people with health problems will continue to use more expensive plans with more comprehensive health coverage.
The association health plans would help Trump achieve his campaign promise to make it easier for companies to sell insurance across state lines. The new rule carries out an executive order Trump signed on October 12, 2017.