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Association Health Plans Again Proposed

On Jan. 4, the Trump administration issued a proposed rule that would allow more small businesses and self-employed workers to band together to buy insurance. Experts say the rule to expand access to “association health plans” could actually weaken the individual health insurance market...
January 9, 2018

On Jan. 4, the Trump administration issued a proposed rule that would allow more small businesses and self-employed workers to band together to buy insurance. Experts say the rule to expand access to “association health plans” could actually weaken the individual health insurance market. AHPs could also undermine state regulation of insurance because these plans are not subject to the same regulations and consumer protections as other health plans sold under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The proposed rule, which grew out of an executive order issued in October, would broaden the definition of an employer under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 to allow more employers to form association health plans and bypass ACA rules.

READ: Issue Brief on AHPs by American Academy of Actuaries

“Generally speaking, these types of plans are exempt from state law and outside my jurisdiction,” said Acting Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. “That means any issues that consumers have, I won’t be able to help them. More and more people would fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and I think state regulators would say we really do it better.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans expressed concern over the new proposed rules.

“Americans deserve affordable choices, and we are concerned that the changes proposed would lead to higher prices and weaker consumer protections in the small group and individual markets, where nearly 40 million Americans get their coverage,” Kristine Grow, AHIP senior vice president, communications, said in a statement.

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