By Lauren Bikoff, MLS
Expansion of AHPs for small businesses reveals trend towards fully-insured, regionally based plans.
Over half (54 percent) of newly-created association health plans (AHPs) limit association membership to employers with two to 50 employees, according to recent research from AssociationHealthPlans.com. The surveynoted that 43 percent of new AHPs allow sole proprietors and the self-employed to join.
On June 21, 2018, the Department of Labor expanded access to AHPs for small businesses employees and self-employed individuals by permitting more employers to form AHPs. The AHP final rule (83 FR 28912, June 21, 2018) has generated considerable controversy over whether the rule would expand desirable health care coverage to small businesses and their employees, or actually put comprehensive and affordable health care coverage for this sector at risk.
The survey noted that the analysis of 34 newly-created AHPs under the final rule revealed a market with a trend towards fully-insured, regionally-based AHPs sponsored by chambers of commerce. Highlights of the survey include:
- Regional associations launched 71 percent of new AHPs, and four out of five of these were sponsored by chambers of commerce.
- Eighty-six percent of new AHPs are fully insured, and UnitedHealthcare and its subsidiaries insures the majority of the new AHPs, followed by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The average number of plan options within an AHP was 11, and half of AHPs offered at least one medical savings account (such as a health savings account or health reimbursement arrangement) option.
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