Trump administration finalizes expansion of association health plans

Grant Boone
June 23, 2018

This reform allows small employers - many of whom are facing much higher premiums and fewer coverage options as a result of Obamacare - a greater ability to join together and gain numerous regulatory advantages enjoyed by large employers. Although AHPs are not a new concept, the rule loosens restrictions around which organizations can join or create a plan, allowing a larger swath of employers to form an AHP based on either industry or geography. Existing self-insured AHPs can begin operating under the new rule on January 1, 2019, and new self-insured AHPs can begin on April 1, 2019. The new rule will begin applying to plans over the next year.

Like this story? Subscribe to FierceHealthcare!

Like the version proposed in January, the final rule allows employers with a "commonality of interest" to offer joint coverage without numerous restrictions that previously applied to coverage provided through associations.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that millions of people will switch their coverage to more affordable and more flexible AHPs and save thousands of dollars in premiums.

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta told FOX Business that the Trump administration's new health insurance rule will allow small businesses to negotiate lower cost plans. "The President's decision helps working Americans-and their families-purchase quality, affordable health coverage".

The Trump administration finalized plans Tuesday to let small companies and the self-employed band together and buy health insurance outside of Obamacare's strict rules, moving to offer coverage to people priced out of the market by the 2010 health care law.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the goal is to boost small employers who were "left out of Obamacare".

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to stop selling location data of customers
Verizon said it will terminate its agreements with the two firms, LocationSmart and Zumibo, "as soon as possible". It's strictly between carriers and their previous decisions to give data to these third parties.

Morrisey says it could also provide lower-cost coverage, outside of the current marketplace.

The new rule will be phased in over the next year, beginning in September.

Republicans have praised the new rule as providing cheaper health insurance options to those who can not afford Obamacare plans or who do not want them. She said the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is excited about the possibilities AHPs could bring for small businesses, as many of them have struggled to remain competitive under the Affordable Care Act. He says this could be good news for small business employees.

Today, the Trump Administration released its final regulation on Association Health Plans expanding eligibility for these bare-boned plans, which do not have to provide the same level of minimum coverage as individual policies sold under the Affordable Care Act. "We believe the rule, as proposed, is unlawful and would lead to fewer critical consumer health protections", said the attorneys general, both Democrats. In comments to the DOL, AHA Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy Tom Nickels said the rule "fails to protect against discriminatory insurance practices".

In addition to other requirements, the final rule also confirms that working owners and sole proprietors may be treated as employers for membership in an AHP and as employees eligible for coverage under the plan. In a statement, Small Business Majority founder and CEO John Arensmeyer said expanding AHPs would harm the small group market and criticized the administration for doing "all it can to undermine the [ACA] regardless of the consequences".

"All of these groups and associations can form a trust or within themselves can negotiate for healthcare", Acosta said.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER