By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
The New Hampshire Insurance Department will convene a stakeholder working group to develop legislation for consideration in early 2019 to address features of New Hampshire law that affect the availability of association health plan (AHP) coverage options. The flexibility offered by the new AHP rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor in June is inconsistent with current New Hampshire insurance statutes, according to the NHID.
“Our goal in convening this stakeholder group is to develop legislation that will create clear standards and enable New Hampshire employers to benefit from the availability of new coverage options,” said Insurance Commissioner John Elias. “At the same time, we would like to minimize any potential negative impacts to other health insurance markets and ensure that we are protecting consumers.”
Current state law. A recent bulletin issued by the Department explained that under New Hampshire law, AHPs are subject to the same statutory and regulatory requirements as any other MEWA or group health insurance plan. For fully insured AHP coverage, the prior approval of the Insurance Commissioner is required under RSA 415:18. The rating provisions of RSA 420-G apply to fully insured group coverage, including association coverage.
In addition, a New Hampshire business or organization “which employed on average, one and up to 50 employees, including owners and self-employed persons, on business days during the previous calendar year” is considered a small employer “whether or not it becomes part of an association, multi-employer plan, trust, or any other entity.” Thus, regardless of the new flexibility offered by the DOL, fully insured AHP coverage under current New Hampshire law would need to be rated in accordance with small group rating rules, if issued to a small employer.
Previous efforts. New Hampshire lawmakers have tried for many years to create new options for small employers, but it has been challenging to align these proposals with changing federal standards, according to the NHID. New Hampshire now has the opportunity to adopt legislation that takes advantage of the new flexibility offered by the AHP rule.
The working group’s first meeting will be held on Friday, September 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Walker Building, 21 S. Fruit Street in Concord. A subsequent meeting will be held in October. The Department welcomes all stakeholders to participate in the discussion.
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