The Trump Administration’s Association Health Plans Emerge: What Early Announcements Tell Us About this New Market

This past summer, the Department of Labor (DOL) finalized a regulation calling for the expansion of association health plans (AHPs) for small businesses and self-employed individuals. There continue to be significant questions about the impact of the rule, including how many associations will form, the role major medical insurers will play in AHP administration and marketing, and the extent to which AHPs can offer cheaper premiums than plans that must meet federal and state consumer protection standards. Now, with the rule for fully insured AHPs effective on September 1, we are starting to see AHPs emerge as groups take advantage of the relaxed requirements. Continue reading

House Farm Bill Supports AHPs with Federal Grants—Following in the Footsteps of the ACA’s CO-OP Program

The Farm Bill currently being debated in a House-Senate conference committee enables the Secretary of Agriculture to create a loan and grant program to assist in the establishment of agricultural association health plans (AHPs). The bill’s injection of federal funding for the purpose of creating new health insurance options is strikingly reminiscent of the ACA’s CO-OP Program. As Congress considers directing federal dollars into AHPs, we look back at the experience of the CO-OP program, which demonstrates just how difficult it is to build a new insurance company. Continue reading

States Leaning In: Washington

Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, states have embraced the law to varying degrees. While some states have refused to implement the ACA and actively oppose it, other states have leaned in, stepping up to preserve the consumer protections and market rules in the wake of federal actions to weaken the law. CHIR’s Rachel Schwab examines steps that Washington State has taken to ensure that their residents can continue to obtain affordable, high quality coverage, and how other states can do the same. Continue reading

Insurers, State Regulators Avoid Bare Counties in 2018, but Seek Long-Term Solutions

As we near the end of the second week of a so-far successful Open Enrollment, uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act remains a challenge. As insurers and state regulators prepared for the 2018 plan year, they addressed questions of whether Congress or the Trump Administration would make major changes to the law. This led to a situation in several states where some or all counties seemed likely to have no insurance plan available for residents seeking marketplace coverage. In a new issue brief for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CHIR experts examine the actions of six states that faced the prospect of bare counties for 2018. Continue reading

Future of Health Reform: A prescription for individual market stability

As policy uncertainty in Washington, DC roils health insurance markets nationwide, states like Minnesota are stepping up to preserve consumer coverage choices and keep premiums affordable. In a conference at the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette joined in a wide-ranging discussion with state leaders over the future of the ACA. BCBSM’s Laura Kaslow shares some takeaways from the event. Continue reading