Agencies respond to President Trump's health care executive order

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - President Trump's executive order signed Thursday, October 12th relaxes some of rules on small businesses. It will allow associations to band together to buy policies across state lines.

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued this information in response to the potential impact on small businesses:

"These associations could potentially allow small businesses to gain many advantages that large businesses now enjoy. For example, if new regulations were to allow more employers to form fully insured large group plans or self-insure, the employers in these new or existing associations may be able to avoid several Obamacare mandates currently driving up premiums on the exchange. We believe these changes will allow small businesses to offer their workers more affordable, flexible coverage."

A spokesperson goes on to note, "About 35 million workers are employed by small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Most small employers can no longer afford to offer health benefits. The only option for many of these workers is the Obamacare exchange in their state, essentially leaving them with no option at all due to ever increasing premium costs. We've actually seen the percentage of workers at small firms covered by employer health benefits fall under existing regulations, and the President's EO would reverse that course allowing them more choices and cost benefits."

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The Illinois Department of Insurance is also weighing in.

"There is no question that major structural flaws in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have forced higher insurance rates and separated families from trusted physicians and hospitals," said Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Jennifer Hammer. "Although I am excited the President's EO stands to provide employees of small businesses with additional options for health insurance coverage, I am concerned that expansion of Association Health Plans (AHPs), if implemented too hastily, will result in consumers purchasing products that don't provide the consumer protection to which they are accustomed. DOI looks forward to working with the USDOL and the Administration on future rulemaking to ensure that consumers are protected and we can continue to foster a robust health insurance market."

DOI is working diligently to ensure that consumers understand they should consider all of their options. DOI reminds consumers that cost alone may not be the only factor to consider when selecting a plan. For example, consumers may want to also consider a plan's provider network and whether the plan has the coverages they are accustomed to receiving. Consumers can also call DOI's Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-866-445-5364 with questions. "DOI is committed to ensuring there is a competitive and robust insurance market to provide the lowest cost, high quality health insurance to consumers," said Hammer.

The EO does not change the fact the current law requires consumers to have health insurance coverage. DOI strongly urges consumers to shop around and shop early during Open Enrollment (November 1-December 15) to make the best choice. We encourage Illinois residents to make an appointment for free, in-person assistance from a licensed and trained Navigator by going to GetCoveredIllinois.gov . You can also call DOI's Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-866-445-5364 with questions.

"The ACA remains the law of the land. We will continue to ensure compliance with the ACA and the new Executive Order. Our mission at DOI is to protect consumers as well as foster a robust insurance marketplace," said Hammer.