Department of Labor Finalizes Rule to Expand Association Health Plans / by Joe Furia

Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

This week the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that modifies the definition of "employer" under federal law, allowing more individuals, including sole proprietors, to participate in Association Health Plans (AHPs) based on geography or industry. The DOL will monitor the plans, which are required to meet certain nondiscrimination requirements. The final rule preempts states from fully regulating these plans, including ensuring that appropriate consumer protections are in place. While the expansion of AHPs may reduce costs for some healthier individuals, experts believe this will come at the expense of less healthy individuals who will continue to rely on the Marketplace for coverage. The provisions of the rule go into effect on a rolling basis between September 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019, depending on whether the AHP is existing or new and whether the plan will be self-funded or fully insured.