If your company is a member of your local chamber of commerce or another professional association, you’ve probably heard a lot of chatter recently about association health plans. But what are they, and how can they benefit you and your staff?
Association Health Plans, Explained
Simply put, association health plans (AHPs) are group health plans that allow many small employers to band together to offer health coverage to all of their employees. This means that small businesses, and even people who are self-employed with no employees, can purchase insurance as part of a larger group. If you own a small business, you could potentially use one of these plans to gain access to less expensive coverage with more features than what you’d be able to afford on your own.
As of June 19, 2018, Department of Labor rules allows employers to form associations based on a number of factors, including common industry or geography. Three local chambers of commerce in Nevada have decided to take advantage of the new rule to offer AHPs to members. The Henderson Chamber of Commerce, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber, and the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce have all rolled out new plan offerings. AHP coverage for the former two chambers has already begun. Coverage for the Reno + Sparks Chamber’s AHP will begin November 1, but enrollment is currently open.
Additionally, several other employer associations–such as the Builders Association of Northern Nevada and The Nevada Subcontractors Association, among others–have AHPs already in place.
One exciting benefit of the new AHPs is that you can enroll early and start saving right away. You won’t have to wait until your regular plan renewal date or open enrollment. Existing AHPs do have a strict OE period, however.
And these plans are totally compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This means that insurers can’t deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, they can’t cherry pick participants, and they can’t charge higher rates based on health status.
How Can AHPs Benefit Your Company?
If you or your business belongs to an association with an AHP, then you are entitled to purchase their insurance products for yourself and your employees. You have this right even if you are self-employed, and you have no employees other than yourself.
Every AHP is different, but they are all ACA compliant. Here are some of the benefits that many AHPs offer:
- Several plans to choose from.
- Health plans are supported by thousands of employees rather than just the few who work for your small business.
- Pre-existing conditions must be covered.
- Many offer PPOs and HMOs.
- Plans often come with a two-year rate guarantee.
- Broad network access.
- Comprehensive pharmacy plans.
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are often available.
- Many offer dental, vision and life coverage.
- Custom plans and pricing are available for sole proprietors or any size employer.
- Associations may choose to hold Health and Wellness fairs or offer other wellness programs.
- Some plans offer virtual programs too, such as virtual clinic visits in which members can talk to providers via phone, video, or chat.
- Added benefits such as weight loss programs and gym memberships.
*Note, this is not meant to be an exhaustive or universal list of AHP benefits. Every plan is different, so check on the benefits of your specific plan.
Still unsure if an association health plan is right for your business? Give us a call! We can help you find out if your company is eligible to join one of these plans, and explain all of the benefits.