Association Health Plans: Lacking in Patient Protections

In October of 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Labor to revise regulations to allow employers to form Association Health Plans (AHPs).

hero_image_alt_text===Picture of a doctor
thumbnail_alt_text===Picture of a doctor

AHP’s are group health plans that employers, associations, and in some circumstance’s individuals, can join to provide health coverage for their members’ employees. However, these plans are not subject to the same quality standards and patient protections as plans sold through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces and have a long history of financial troubles. In the past, AHPs experiencing financial difficulties in several states have left customers holding the bag for millions of dollars of medical debt.

Proponents of this rule argue that associated health plans will expand healthcare coverage at a reduced cost. Unfortunately, time and time again this has proven to be false. Similar to short term plans, AHPs can offer reduced premiums to participants, but they do not cover some of the most basic healthcare needs and leave patients personal and financial wellbeing at risk.

Increased use of AHP’s could have a negative impact on those who choose to enroll in AHP coverage, but also on the healthcare marketplace as a whole. Because AHP coverage starts at a lower cost they have the potential to attract younger, healthier individuals away from the marketplace. Individuals who require comprehensive health insurance would see their premiums increase dramatically. Even healthy individuals who opt for AHP coverage are at risk of increased premiums, despite selecting the “cheaper” option.

We recommend that you carefully and thoroughly research your healthcare options before selecting an associated health plan.

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