What are Association Health Plans (AHPs)?
• Association Health Plans (AHPs), under the Department of Labor’s rule, are group health plans that associations will offer to provide health coverage for mostly sole proprietors, owner only groups, and individuals.
• AHPs allow these very small employers and individuals to band together to purchase the types of coverage that are available to small and large employers, which can be less expensive and better tailored to their needs vs current options.
• The rule allows more associations to form AHPs, based on common geography or industry.
• For the first time, working owners without other employees (including sole-proprietors) and their families will be permitted to join AHPs, creating a new path for these hardworking Americans to access affordable, quality health coverage. Currently, most partnerships, sole proprietors, and owner only businesses are forced into the Individual Health Insurance market, which limits their choice of carrier and provider network.
While the idea of association health plans (AHPs) is to give more flexible options to individuals and sole proprietors, there are many who counter that there was widespread fraud and insolvency when these types of plans were around in years past. While they promise to bring down cost, they will likely also remove some of the protections and coverage features required of current affordable care act policies, which could ultimately end up reducing their allure.
We believe that the ultimate beneficiary of these plans will be individuals, owner only businesses, and sole proprietors who are now stuck with quasi ‘expanded Medicaid’ plans that do not offer much doctor choice and severely limit the hospitals they can go to.
Small Businesses in NY are comprised of groups with 1-100 employees, and these businesses won’t likely benefit from these AHPs because they are already ‘pooled together’ with other businesses to get the lowest rates possible. It is the sole proprietors, businesses without a common law employee, and individuals who will benefit from more choice of plans and providers under AHPs.
Please check back often as we will be updating this page as we get new information. NY has sued to block this new Executive Order, so we are sure there will be many updates to come.