President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that will allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines.
The order is intended to expand choices to current Obamacare plans and increase competition so that costs come down for consumers.
"The time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines, which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care," President Trump said.
Under the order, the secretary of labor will consider allowing American employers to form groups across states, which will expand access to Association Health Plans.
This action is intended to make it easier for employers to come together and give workers more options at lower rates in a large group market.
The executive order instructs three agencies—the Department of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor—to consider increasing health care coverage through short-term limited duration insurance, which is not subject to the Affordable Care Act's rules and mandates. This type of insurance usually has high coverage limits and more providers.
The order also directs the same three agencies to make changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements—employer-funded accounts—so workers would have more control and flexibility with spending on their health care needs.
According to Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the executive order Trump signed today is just the beginning of the process, but it's a move in the right direction for those who have been adversely affected by Obamacare.
"There won’t be any actual changes until they complete the regulatory revision process," Haislmaier said. "An executive order by itself doesn’t change regulations."
"Basically it's a move in the right direction to help people who have seen their choices reduced and costs increased due to Obamacare, particularly many small businesses and many self-employed," he said.
"There are limits to how much can be done by the administration on its own," Haislmaier explained. "Selling insurance across state lines was only going to make a modest difference before Obamacare and, to the extent that Obamacare imposes federal essential health benefits, the effects would be even less today."
"These are changes the administration is making in terms of interpreting the law, not actually changing law," he said. "The administration is inherently limited in what it can accomplish working within laws that are on the books. There is still a need for Congress to go in and make changes to the law that are more substantive."