Association Health Plans (AHPs) are a method for Americans who are running a small business to band together regardless of the industry or geography they relate to. Under this authoritative regulation, more health coverage choices are offered to small businesses and their employees; and the plans they have chosen will be under the rules that are applicable to large group health plans because of he huge number of people that AHPs will cover. On the other hand, these plans are less prescriptive, thus they are more cost-efficient.
Before AHPs, there was unfair treatment between large and small companies. This left small business employers with no choice but to pay for expensive health coverage or provide no coverage at all. This may be the reason why there has been a decline of health plan coverage from different small businesses in the recent years. With AHPs, fortunately, this trend will soon be reversed.
As stated by the Congressional Budget Office, the latest presidential order may push around four hundred thousand uninsured Americans to apply for health coverage. Thus, there will be an estimated four million people in the U.S. who can register and take advantage of the latest AHPs. So, if you are looking for appropriate plans for your employees and business, you can approach the state and regional chambers of commerce and other associations who are more than willing to provide you with valuable coverage that is affordable while providing consumer protections and nondiscrimination provisions.
Although there is a lot more to be done to widen the reach of this innovative health care coverage, this rule offers new opportunities for small enterprises. There are several reforms that need action, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is doing their job in coordinating with the Congress to attain their goals of having a cost-efficient and stable health care system.
Finally, the approval of Association Health Plans (AHPs) is one vital move in the right direction for small business to now purchase a much more cost-efficient health insurance plan for employees. The U.S. Chamber applauded everyone behind this law, making it a reality and there will be more improvements to American health care that will be forthcoming in the future.
Small Businesses often join chambers of commerce for many reasons such as a common legislative voice, community support and networking opportunities with like minded employers.
Now an Association Health Plan gives small businesses another reason to join a chamber of commerce. As a value added benefit, the combined buying power of members of a chamber of commerce can allow employers an opportunity to get similar preferred pricing and plan designs as enjoyed by companies with a large workforce.
Nevada has already begun to offer Association Health Plans to members of chambers of commerce through a coalition of chambers of the Clark County Health Plan Association. Small employers with at least one and not more than 50 employees and members of participating chambers of commerce can get affordable large group benefits and as much as a 15% premium reduction.
Association Health Plans have been around for many years in states like Oregon, Utah and Washington, but due to the Affordable Care Act it was difficult for new plans (especially chambers of commerce), to qualify as a bona fide association. Recent changes in the U.S. Department of Labor definition of employer has allowed chambers to create Association Health Plans once again.
Nevada Association Health PlansNevada chambers of commerce were among the first in the nation to jump on board with the new options and Elevate Insurance is working with Idaho to quickly Assoction Health Plans to chamber of commerce members and other trade associations.
Among the main benefits of Association Health Plans is that carriers can provide health insurance to small groups based on a large group platform. That is to say, some of the underwriting restrictions and plan design limitations of the Affordable Care Act that apply to employers in the small group market do not apply to large groups. Therefore, they are available to AHPs.
The AHPs are not allowed to deny the employers or their employees, nor raise premiums based on their health conditions. They can, however, evaluate the employee coverage based on the differences in the employer’s SIC code or the number of enrolled employees. Also, some AHPs have multiyear age bands or rate guarantees beyond twelve months.
For instance, the Nevada Association Health Plans, currently provided by the Clark County Health Plan Association, have twenty-four months’ premium guarantee, but that would vary on the policy’s effective date, and pricing discounts based on the enrollment numbers. There are more than ten plan designs that employers can choose from, including HMOs, PPOs, point of service plan, and a high-deductible health plan for use with a health savings account.
There are up to three different programs offered by the organization to their employees. The selections are low, medium, and high benefit plans; and all of these plans are Affordable Care Act compliant.
On the other hand, having a two-year rate guarantee is a notable feature. Thus, small group health insurance premiums in Nevada are getting better by double digits every year, and this gives both the the employers and employees the much needed stability.
On October 12, 2017, an Executive order allowing allowing Association Health Plans (AHPs) paved the way for the U.S. Department of Labor to increase access to group health insurance for small businesses. The aim of AHPs is to authorize small-scale industries to band together through chambers of commerce or other trade associations so they can obtain a large group pricing.
The aim of AHPs is to allow small businesses to band together through chambers of commerce or other trade associations in order to obtain large group pricing.
The Trump Administration's Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition across the United States laid out these new options for small business group health insurance.
"President Trump is expanding affordable health coverage options for America’s small businesses and their employees. Many of our laws make healthcare coverage more expensive for small businesses than large companies. Association Health Plans are about more choice, more access, and more coverage."
- Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta
How Do AHPs Work?
Under the U.S. Department of Labor regulation, Association Health Plans (AHPs) are group health insurance policies that allow employers with less than fifty employees to join forces in giving away employee benefits to their workforce. AHPs are basically to give permission for small employers to obtain large group pricing and underwriting advantages.
According to the new Executive Order, chambers of commerce and other trade associations are allowed to form AHPs based on common purpose, industry or geography. Also, for the very first time, sole-proprietors who do not have any other employees, are allowed to join AHPs along with their families. This will undoubtedly create a new option for many self-employed individuals to have access to quality, affordable group health insurance coverage and may encourage others to become entrepreneurs as well.
Can AHPs Increase Premiums According to the Person's Health Condition?
No. If employers or their employees are eligible to join, they aren’t excluded from Association Health Plans. They aren’t charged too for different premium amounts on their health status. Under the new rules & regulations, small businesses will enjoy the same consumer protections and anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Right after the new rules and guidelines were announced regarding the availability of the Association Health Plans (AHPs) for small-scale business employers, there were criticisms citing that these would only lead to the destabilization of the Affordable Care Act. This is neither a valid argument nor an accurate thinking of consumer demand.
Oppositions assert that healthy employers will only leave the small group market and flock to the new Association Health Plans. The reason why they believe so is that the premiums available for companies with healthy employees will be less through the Association Health Plans than the one available in the small group market.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Frequently Asked Questions webpage specifically addresses the question:
Are AHPs subject to consumer protections?
In other words, the new rules and guidelines state that the Association Health Plans cannot use the preexisting conditions or medical history as an underwriting factor in determination of acceptance within an Association Health Plans trust or amount of premium to be charged to employers.
However, perhaps the bigger question we should be asking is: "Why it is necessary that Association Health Plans have limitations imposed on them in order to support plans created by Affordable Care Act (ACA)?" Shouldn't the ACA plans stand or fall on their own merits, not because of restricted competition?
President Donald Trump authorized some development in federal rules and regulations specifically in Association Health Plans (AHPs). This is good news to the small-scale business owners because for once, the government took into consideration the importance of group health insurance.
Many individuals have received Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) by purchasing on the state exchanges, but the small employers received insufficient compensation with regard to providing for the group health insurance needs for their workers. That’s why these small businesses had been hit the hardest by the health care reform. Fortunately, the approval of group health insurance is a great opportunity for small employers.
On October 12, 2017, Pres. Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled "Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States." This order sets new rules for Association Health Plans (AHPs).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the new rules indicate the following:
Association Health Plans (AHPs), under the Department of Labor's rule, are group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for employees.
Additionally, the newly approved rules provide important precautions, including:
Elevate Insurance is striving to learn about the latest Association Health Plan options and will strive to continue working with the Nevada and Idaho departments of insurance and licensed group health insurance carriers. We are working to to develop and market these plans for eligible employers and their employees through chambers of commerce, trade associations, and similar organizations.
Elevate Insurance currently has offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Idaho Falls, Idaho. We proudly serve all of Nevada and Idaho focusing in the cities of Henderson, Las Vegas, and North Las Vegas, Nevada; and in Ammon, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Meridian and Rigby, Idaho.
© 2016 The National Registry of Workers' Compensation Specialists