Labor Department issues final rule to expand availability of association health plans

On June 19, 2018, the Department of Labor issued a final rule that changes the definition of “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in an effort to make association health plans (AHPs) more broadly available to small employers and their employees. The final rule is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on June 21, 2018.

ERISA is the 1974 federal law that generally regulates health coverage offered by large employers and pre-empts state insurance requirements for self-funded coverage.

The final rule will make it possible for more small employers and their employees to join AHPs, which generally are considered large group health plans that are not subject to insurance market requirements for small group and non-group health insurance products that were enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For example, AHPs would be exempt from requirements for small group and individual market policies to cover the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits.

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