Op-EdAppeared in Morning Consult on October 17, 2019By Elaine Parker

Health Care: The More Choice the Better

Obamacare has flipped the U.S. health care system upside down — strangling patients, doctors and hospitals with regulatory red tape. As a result, choice has dwindled, and costs have skyrocketed. Even worse, it has all but severed the doctor-patient relationship — driving a bureaucratic wedge between the two.

As of this year, almost half of Americans have access to two or fewer health plans in the Obamacare exchanges; nearly 1 in 5 have a single option. Moreover, premiums have increased every year since Obamacare was adopted. Compared to 2013, individual plans have more than doubled in price, and family plans have nearly tripled.

It’s evident the current health care system is unsustainable and requires changes that incorporate free-market ideals — offering cost transparency, personalized plans and competitive prices. But until then, policies that incrementally improve the system we already have should be welcomed.

The Trump administration’s expansion of short-term, limited-duration health insurance is a policy that is actually working.

Short-term plans aren’t subject to all the Obamacare-inspired regulations and requirements and can therefore provide a more affordable and customized alternative to traditional health insurance. These plans allow individuals to save money by paying for what they only need.

At the end of the day, not all Americans require the same benefits. Therefore, they shouldn’t be forced to pay for them.

The Trump administration expanded these plans in 2018. Previously, Americans could only take advantage of this type of coverage for short periods of time, but now the plans can last one year and be extended to three.

Although short-term coverage is not for everyone, they can be of great value in niche circumstances.

For instance, part-time workers or someone between jobs could benefit. Compared to traditional Obamacare plans, short-term coverage can be up to 75 percent cheaper. While it’s not the gold-standard plan with all the bells and whistles, it provides some protection for those with temporarily modest or non-existent incomes.

Likewise, for those who are self-employed with no dependents, opting for a short-term policy agreement can be a more reasonable choice. For example, monthly savings in Florida could amount to $420; in Arizona, $485; and in Missouri, $515. If these plans are kept for three years, savings would amount to over $15,000. As small business entrepreneurs know, those financial savings will have an out-sized impact when reinvested.

Short-term plans can also come in handy for young Americans just entering the labor force. Healthy 20-somethings shouldn’t be obligated to shell out hundreds of dollars per month from their entry-level income for fully loaded health plans they are unlikely to use.

It’s obvious to any impartial bystander that short-term insurance plans fill a much-needed gap in the current health care system — offering health coverage that, although doesn’t cover all the benefits Obamacare deems to be “necessary,” includes the basics at an affordable price.

The moral of the story? One-size-fits-all plans rarely work. Americans deserve choice when it comes to health care, whether it be a fully loaded gold plan with all the bells and whistles or barebones coverage that simply covers the essentials. The choice should be left up to individuals and families, not government bureaucrats.