Employers interested in forming Association Health Plans (AHP) to purchase health care benefits for their employees have a resource to help with federal regulations and guidelines. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) added compliance assistance information to its Employer.gov website: https://tinyurl.com/ycnu7r9v.
AHPs give small businesses the ability to purchase insurance in the large group market with the same leverage to negotiate prices and benefits as large companies. To form an AHP, small employers must be in the same business, trade, industry or profession or have a principal place of business in a region not exceeding the same site or metropolitan boundaries. Owners who don’t have employees also can join AHPs for their own and their family’s health coverage.
AHPs are employee welfare benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). They must:
- Meet standards of conduct for plan sponsors and employers managing group health plans.
- Meet health care continuation coverage provisions under COBRA.
- Comply with health care protections provided in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act; and other group health plan laws.
New compliance materials include:
- Rules to set up and manage new AHPs.
- Compliance assistance resources covering establishing and managing an AHP.
For information about the best group plans for your AHP, contact your broker.