Senate Republicans yesterday introduced a bill that could offer affordable health insurance options for more than 100,000 small business employees and self-employed people.
Senate Bill 86 would make it easier for groups in North Carolina to create Association Health Plans, which are plans created by a trade group or other business association can offer to their members. These plans would specifically apply to workers in companies with fewer than 50 employees.
“Small businesses have been failed by the current insurance market,” said bill co-sponsor Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth).
In June of 2018, the Trump administration gave authorization to allow professional associations to offer insurance coverage to their members.
Association Health Plans (AHPs) allow the self-employed and workers in small businesses not offering coverage to buy in to a group plan offered by the association. Group coverage is typically more affordable than insurance on the individual market, meaning this measure could provide more affordable insurance options to an estimated 110,000 North Carolinians, according to the bill sponsors.
For instance, according to news reports, “the Nebraska Farm Bureau and Medica announced they were teaming up to offer a menu of association health plans in 2019 for individual farmers, ranchers and small agriculture-related businesses.” The plans are expected to deliver a premium savings of up to 25 percent.
Allowing for and promoting AHPs in North Carolina could generate significant premium cost savings for health insurance consumers, especially farmers and small business employees.