Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had health insurance? Without question? Without having to be employed? Without needing subsidies? Without their employers suffering?
A recent article talked about the new Association Health Plans (AHP) that allow small businesses to band together to contract for insurance for their employees. There is some controversy around these plans and I am not going to go into that here. And I don’t have enough knowledge about them yet to have an opinion but initially I will say anything that increases health care coverage for Americans is a plus.
A quick overview around AHPs:
The rules issued by the Labor Department allow sole proprietors and partners to buy coverage that wasn’t available to them under the Affordable Care Act . The rules also permit the plans to offer insurance that doesn’t meet the health law’s requirements for basic coverage.
The catch for many businesses is the rules, unlike many other federal laws and regulations, don’t supersede state requirements for health insurance, and states that heavily regulate insurance are expected to make it harder, if not impossible, for association health plans to be formed.
Moreover, there are concerns that new association health plans could revive a problem from the past — plans that become insolvent or are scams.
But here’s a quick note from the article that has been a point that I’ve made here a number of times. If we had comprehensive universal single payer health insurance…small businesses wouldn’t be at a disadvantage in hiring…and big businesses would save money by disbanding their health insurance maintenance offices. But from a small business:
Melissa Perlman hasn’t been able to afford insurance for her staffers since starting her public relations company, BlueIvy Communications, in 2011. She’s interested in the potential association health plan being considered by the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. Perlman is aware coverage might not be as comprehensive as on the open market. But, she says, “whatever is offered would be an improvement from offering nothing.”
But this doesn’t sound like the perfect panacea for Ms. Perlman. She will have to spend some time and money to research the plans she may have available for consideration…I imagine she could be doing better things.
Conversations with reputable and knowledgeable professionals are a good start when doing research. For example, consult a human resources or benefits provider or a health insurance broker who can discuss the pros and cons of all the insurance options. A well-known trade or business group is also likely to have done due diligence before offering a plan.
A comprehensive universal single payer plan would solve the issue…and the rules would be straight forward and consistent for everyone.
Now an anecdote to pile on. I like to use local family owned contractors to work on my old home…whether plumber or electrician or etc. Yesterday one of them told me that his response time wouldn’t be what it used to be because his help had quit because he couldn’t afford to provide health insurance and they made too much to get a subsidy on the ACA sites. So they went to a bigger firm that could supply benefits. So he was down to just himself doing the work. So he has dropped clients and availability to those he’s kept. He has a nice business. He had a great crew. This result is the exact opposite of what we want in our communities. We want small local entrepreneurs…when are we going to figure out all of the side benefits for society and the economy of going to a single payer model?