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What employers need to know about the new Association Health Plan regulations

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New regulations create more options for employers

The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Tuesday it plans to allow small businesses to join together and offer association health plans.

The plans would not have to adhere to some of the stricter standards required under the Affordable Care Act. This could result in cheaper insurance options for small businesses and their employees, though some consumer groups warn some patients may lose access to care.

Here’s what employers need to know.

Groups operating in the same industry or in the same region could band together to offer association health plans. Previously, groups had to share some kind of economic goal in order to form an association, but these regulations have been loosened. Even individuals who work for themselves may be able to join an association to obtain coverage.

The plans would not be subject to essential benefit requirements, which means the plans may not cover hospitalizations or maternity care, for example. However, some ACA protections will still apply, including out-of-pocket caps and bans on lifetime and annual limits will style apply, and rates will not be based on health status.

The new regulations are expected to become effective September 2018. In order to take part in an Association Health Plan, businesses first have to form or join an association. They are often available through professional or trade organizations.

Wondering if an Association Health Plan is right for your business, or considering other alternatives to address rising costs? Bernard Health can help. We have over a decade of experience working with groups of all sizes and are experts in innovative funding strategies to reduce costs while maintaining great coverage for your team. To learn more, click below.

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