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Sunny skies ahead for indemnity health writers?

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For health insurers and brokers, one big, quick change could be sunnier skies for short-term health insurance, indemnity health insurance and other products that fill in gaps in major medical coverage.

The Internal Revenue Service, the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published a final rule that limits the duration of short-term health insurance to three months.

In the same final rule, which appeared in the Federal Register on Oct. 31, the agencies also banned the sale of any supplemental insurance product that provides first-dollar coverage for what the government classifies as essential health benefits, such as inpatient hospitalization benefits and or ordinary primary care benefits.

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Federal law lets Congress kill regulations issued during the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing president’s last year in office. Because the law refers to legislative days, rather than calendar days, the Congress may be able to use careful counting of partial legislative days to stretch the regulation annulment period back to June.

Officials in the next administration could also ease the effects of the short-term health and supplemental health regulations by declining to enforce them. That means insurers may be able to keep a wide range of products on the market even if Republicans run into delays when they try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Insurers with new products that could benefit from a warmer climate for gap-filler products could include Carmel, Indiana-based CNO Financial Group; Philadelphia-based Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., which is part of Tokio Marine; and Stamford, Connecticut-based Independence Holding Co.


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