by Ray Hayes

The cost of health insurance is a big problem for today’s small businesses and unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has not helped relieve this burden. For many, the ACA has worsened the massive problem, with many owners advocating for Congress and the US Labor Department to step in and help decrease costs. Reports have recently surfaced stating that the US Labor Department will announce a new rule in regards to the use of association health plans. These plans could possibly help small businesses significantly, helping to lower health care costs while also increasing choices for small businesses and their employees.

At the start of 2018, the US Labor Department announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “to expand the opportunity to offer employment-based health insurance to small businesses through Small Business Health Plans, also known as Association Health Plans,”. The proposed plan would allow employees to form a Small Business Health Plan based on geography or industry with sole proprietors able to join.

Before the rule is officially finalized, representatives from the Jobs Creator Network asked for the Labor Department’s secretary to consider two provisions that could be extremely helpful. The first provision asks for the Department to treat the association health plans as single employee health plans which would ultimately cover employees within multiple states. Without this provision, plans will be state regulated with additional mandates that could drive up costs. The second provision would require an expansion of the criteria as to how businesses come together to form association health plans.

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