Trump Expands Healthcare Access with Health Reimbursement Accounts

A woman fills out paperwork while waiting in a doctor's office.
Jason Connolly ?AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump expanded Thursday the ability for businesses to offer their employees health insurance through health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) in his latest move to extend to Americans more affordable health care.

The Trump administration announced a rule Thursday that would expand businesses’s ability to use tax-free HRAs, which would allow employees to be able to use them to purchase their own individual health insurance.

Through the Trump rule, employers that already offer health insurance can set up another type of HRA account, up to $1,800 per, to allow workers to receive additional benefits such as dental and vision care. This second option for HRAs would also enable businesses to purchase short-term health insurance plans, which often cost less compared to Obamacare plans.

The Trump White House said that the rule would help small and medium-sized businesses offer health insurance to their employees. The administration estimates that up to 800,000 employers, and more than 11 million workers and family members will benefit from the healthcare expansion.

“This is going to create significant benefits for employers, particularly small employers, and millions of workers,” White House health policy adviser Brian Blase told reporters Thursday.

Blase, in an op-ed Friday, suggested that the Trump rule will increase healthcare choices and allow Americans to keep their health insurance coverage when they receive new employment.

“The rule will significantly expand worker options, since 80% of firms that provide insurance currently offer only one type of plan,” Blase said. “Now, workers will be able to use tax-advantaged money from their employers to buy coverage of their choosing. This new flexibility will allow people to maintain their coverage when they switch jobs.”
The rule has already received applause from the conservative world.
Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) senior fellow Josh Archambault said that the HRA rule will allow small businesses, often with less than 100 employees, to begin offering their employees health insurance.

Archambault said:

As health insurance costs continue to climb, many small businesses cannot afford to offer health insurance to their employees. Since 2003, there has been an almost 30 percent drop in health insurance offer rates at companies with fewer than 100 employees. Today, the Trump administration is offering a creative solution to revolutionize health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and benefit employers and employees alike.

FreedomWorks’ vice president of legislative affairs Jason Pye said in a statement Friday:

This HRA rule will be a major boost for small- and mid-sized businesses across the United States and provide more flexibility for employers and workers. Importantly, it provides a means for employees to take ownership in their health insurance plans, making health insurers more responsive to their needs, rather than a third-party payer like an employer.

Trump’s latest healthcare move follows previous expansions of short-term health plans and Association Health Plans (AHPs). AHPs allow businesses, industries, and associations to band together and create their own health insurance pools cheaper than Obamacare.
One FGA study found that short-term plans could cost 80 percent less than Obamacare “bronze” plans, while Land O’ Lakes’ AHP offers health insurance to their employees at roughly half the cost of Obamacare plans. The Land O’ Lakes AHP also covers patients with preexisting conditions.

Trump’s latest healthcare reform arises as he promised Republicans will become the party of “health care.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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