Association Insurance Pushes On Despite Court Ruling
When the Trump administration in June issued rules making it easier for small employers to band together to buy health insurance, “we started looking immediately,” recalled Scott Lyon, a top executive at the Small Business Association of Michigan.
Although he offered traditional small-group health insurance to his association’s employees and members, Lyon liked adding a new option for both: potentially less expensive coverage through an association health plan, which doesn’t have to meet all the rules of the Affordable Care Act.
Now, a few months in, “we’ve got 400 companies and a couple of thousand workers signed up,” said Lyon last week.
Nationally, an estimated 30,000 people are in such association health plans, a type of health insurance seeing a nascent resurgence following an initial drop-off after the ACA took effect in 2014.
Most of the new enrollees joined through groups like Lyon’s or local chambers of commerce, farm bureaus or agriculture-based cooperatives. Such groups see the plans not only as a way to offer insurance, but also as an enticement to boost membership.
In the first legal test, however, U.S. District Judge John Bates at the end of March sided with 11 states and the District of Columbia challenging the law. He invalidated a large chunk of those June rules, saying the administration issued them as an “end-run around the Affordable Care Act.”
So what now?
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