Health Highlights: June 20, 2018

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Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Trump Health Insurance Option Gets Mixed Response

Lower premiums for small businesses and self-employed people are part of the Trump administration's new health insurance option, but those plans may provide fewer benefits and could lead to higher premiums for people who require broad coverage.

The final details of the "association health plans" were announced Tuesday, with the president claiming the plans, which will start to be phased in this September, will save small businesses large amounts of money, the Associated Press reported.

The plans provide needed flexibility to deal with increasing premiums, according to Republicans and some small-business groups. Democrats called it "junk insurance" and some patients groups said it could weaken coverage for people in poor health.

This is a parallel insurance market with different rules that will operate alongside the Affordable Care Act, independent experts said, and there will be only slight changes with the new plans, suggest initial estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the AP reported.

Under the ACA, plans for small businesses must cover 10 types of "essential" benefits, including prescription drugs, mental health and maternity health. The new plans mean small businesses could get plans with fewer required benefits, according to Gary Claxton of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

"They are providing insurance options that have fewer benefits and fewer requirements than ACA-compliant plans," he told the AP. "That will have a tendency to pull healthier people away because they are more attracted to plans with fewer benefits."

The new plans have the same protections for employees with pre-existing conditions that large-company plans now have, according to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

This is a story from HealthDay, a service of ScoutNews, LLC.