New association health plan rules provide opportunity for small businesses

Q&A with Brandon Long

published in The Oklahoman | June 26, 2018

On June 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued final regulations that allow more employers to form association health plans (AHPs).  In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman, employee benefits attorney Brandon Long explained that AHPs offer an innovative option for businesses – particularly small businesses that have struggled to provide affordable coverage for their employees in the past – to come together and buy health coverage that isn’t subject to all the legal complexities of traditional plans on the market.

“The new rules provide more flexibility and allow employers to join together and participate in the same health plan if there’s a ‘commonality of interest,’ either where the employers are in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or each employer has a principle place of business in the same region that doesn’t exceed the boundaries of a single state or metropolitan area,” said Long.  “Under this standard, more small businesses and self-employed individuals in Oklahoma could join together and participate in an association health plan, regardless of whether they’re in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession.”

The new rules go into effect on September 1, 2018, for new fully insured association health plans and on April 1, 2019, for new self-funded AHPs.