President Trump launches new short-term, limited duration health insurance options for consumers
Since his inauguration in 2016, President Trump has sought to dismantle Obamacare but has been repeatedly challenged. Now, he seeks to undercut it by launching new flexible healthcare plans, with new rules attached within the short-term, limited-duration insurance options on offer in October 2018.
The insurance plans will cover longer periods than the previous two months and can now cover periods of less than 12 months, up to 36 months in order to target those who are unable to afford high premiums.
At present, up to 28mn Americans are without insurance coverage, according to the Centers for Disease Control, leading the new plans to be up to 80% cheaper than traditional Obama led insurance plans.
Donald Trump has stated that the plans will be “much less expensive healthcare at a much lower price. Will cost our country nothing. We’re finally taking care of our people.”
However, the plans have been hit with fierce criticism from many, where critics have deemed the plan as ‘junk insurance.’ The plans will not cover existing medical conditions, pregnancy, prescription drugs, or substance abuse, alongside no guarantee that such plans will be renewed, The Guardian has reported.
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“For many who’ve got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them,” health and human services secretary Alex Azar said. “We’re just providing more options.”
“We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage,” added Jim Parker, a senior adviser at HHS. “But what we do know is that there are individuals today who have been priced out of coverage.”
However, health experts have warned that with such limited coverage, consumers will be opening themselves up to a number of risks, where they may not be able to access essential care at times of need. Additionally, for those that switch, premiums could be set to rise further.
"There's so little regulation of these products. It's a buyer beware situation" Sabrina Corlette, research professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University informed CNBC.
However, the move will lead to increased competition within the health insurance industry, where providers will look to further transform their service offerings.
Advances in health "must ensure self-sovereign identity"
The UK government has announced that from September onwards COVID-19 vaccine passports will be necessary to gain entry into places with large crowds, such as nightclubs.
This has reignited the debate between those who believe having proof of vaccinations will enable people to gather in public places and travel safely, and those who view the digital certificates as an attack on personal freedom.
The arguments have increased in intensity since the recent announcement to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England, in a move to reopen the economy that has attracted fierce criticism both domestically and overseas.
Cross-party ministers are set to defy the government’s latest plans to introduce vaccine passports over civil liberties concerns. A number of MPs have already signed the Big Brother Watch declaration against “Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs” in recent months.
However Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences, says the Big Brother Watch campaign is based on false assumptions. “Big Brother Watch puts forward a compelling argument based around civil liberties, but some of the assumptions they make are simply incorrect” he says.
“For example, the BBW campaign claims that all Covid passes are discriminatory, counterproductive and would lead to British citizens having to share personal health information with anyone in authority, from bouncers to bosses. However, there are already privacy-first digital wallets that give individuals the freedom to store and share anonymised medical documents, work credentials and other types of documentation quickly, simply, and securely.
“I wholeheartedly agree that individuals should not be required to share their own personal health information with unknown third parties or with anyone in authority who demands it" Shaw adds. "But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that ‘events and businesses are either safe to open for everyone, or no one’. It creates a false dichotomy that either everyone is safe, or nobody is safe. If employers or event organisers don’t take action to properly manage workplace or venue safety, then they risk curtailing the safety and freedom of movement for the majority."
The subject of personal health data is under scrutiny in the UK at the moment, following controversial plans for the NHS to share patient data with third parties. These have been put on hold following public criticism.
Meanwhile a new report has found that the majority of the British public is willing to embrace digital healthcare tools such as apps and digital therapies prescribed by a trusted healthcare professional.
Shaw adds: “The vital point to make is this: innovations in health technology must ensure self-sovereign identity. This means the data held about an individual is owned by the individual and stored on their device. And, in the case of medical data, that data can be delivered from healthcare professionals to the device in an encrypted format, and the user chooses how they share their information."