The DOL has released the long awaited final rule on Association Health Plans (AHPs), after the
directive from the President’s 2017 Executive Order. The final rule largely tracks the proposed rule, in expanding access to large group insurance for smaller employers who come together and
form associations. The rule accomplishes this by expanding what is considered to be ‘an employer’ within ERISA Title I, section 3(5).
AHPs are expected to be most beneficial to small employers, and sole proprietors located in the
same state. This is due to the fact that at present, these are groups most burdened by the small
group market requirements imposed by the Affordable Care Act, and the limited offerings in the
small group insurance market.
The rule allows individual business owners and small employers to pool themselves, and be
underwritten as ‘large group’, with the purpose of offering health insurance to its members. The
‘pool’ can be based on shared industry or geography. The final rule does not change existing
MEWA rules or state regulation of MEWAs, so these issues will still need to be watched in the
formation of prospective AHPs.
The full text of the DOL’s final rule can be viewed here.