The Trump administration has published a rule that allows for expanded association health plans. The plans, known as AHPs, allow small-business owners to join together through trade and professional associations to purchase health insurance for themselves and their employees.
The creation of AHPs to provide additional options for employers in offering health care insurance to their employees has been a priority for the Society of American Florists for years.Currently AHPs are severely limited. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that AHPs were only utilized by six percent of smaller companies in the country in 2017.
The rule seeks to expand the availability of AHPs and make health care insurance more affordable for small businesses. AHPs will not be required to comply with mandates imposed on insurance sold to individuals and small companies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), thus lowering costs. The rule will be phased in beginning on September 1, 2018.
“By providing scale and access to a large-group market, [small businesses will get] coverage at a better price,” Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta said. “This includes 400,000 Americans who are currently uninsured. [The] AHP [rule] will include safeguards, consumer protections and anti-discrimination protections” similar to those applied to large businesses.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 4 million people, including 400,000 who otherwise would go without insurance, are expected to join association health care plans by 2023.
SAF began researching the feasibility of creating an AHP after President Trump issued his executive order in October of 2017 “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States”, which included the possibility that expanded AHPs might be allowed. SAF will continue assess whether an AHP will be beneficial for its members as a health care insurance option.