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ACP Concerned New Health Insurance Rule Will Undermine Patient Protections, Jeopardize Coverage

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, FACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (June 20, 2018) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) strongly opposes the administration’s final rule as issued yesterday that will undermine important protections, including essential health benefit coverage requirements, for patients and consumers as established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by expanding the availability of association health plans (AHPs) for small businesses and individuals.

ACP recognizes that while AHP coverage may be cheaper than existing options for some small businesses and individuals, they may achieve those savings by offering fewer benefits and adjusting premiums based on age and gender in an effort to attract healthier enrollees. History predicts that this approach will destabilize the individual and small group insurance markets—a source of coverage for millions of Americans, and cause premiums in those markets to increase substantially.

As a physician, I know from experience how crucial it is that patients have access to insurance plans that meet full health care needs. This rule will do the opposite. In March, ACP and other physician groups wrote to the U.S. Department of Labor and explained that AHPs have a history of fraud and insolvency that can strap businesses, consumers, and providers with millions of dollars in unpaid bills, and leave patients without health insurance coverage. In another letter to the Department of Labor this year, ACP wrote that AHPs may create benefit packages that discourage enrollment of patients with common health care needs by not including the benefit of heath care coverage for mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, or maternity services.

The consequences of this rule are clear: patients and consumers will have a difficult time finding coverage plans that meet their needs, patients would lose key essential health care protections put in place by the ACA, and, ultimately, this rule will result in yet another barrier in patients’ access to affordable, quality health care in the United States. ACP urges the administration to focus on policies that support patients’ health and well-being, not ones that deny patients the coverage they need the most.

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 152,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org