Association Health Care Plans Not Gaining Traction
Health Care

Association Health Care Plans Not Gaining Traction


The influential National Federation of Independent Business long supported the expansion of association health care plans, which allow small businesses and trade groups to join together to offer health insurance. At NFIB’s 75th anniversary party in June, President Trump announced new rules that make it easier to offer such plans, promising a new option for “low-cost, great health care” for business owners and employees around the country. But it looks like few groups are taking advantage of the new system, Politico reports, and even the NFIB has abandoned long-held intentions to offer a plan for its hundreds of thousands of members.

Although association plans can’t be sold until September 1 — despite Trump’s recent claim that millions of people are already signing up — several nationwide trade groups told Politico that it’s not clear how the new system will work, if it will work at all. For example, the National Association of Realtors, which had long favored the expansion of association health plans, said it was still working on understanding the new rules and has no plans to offer insurance anytime soon.

While the Trump administration’s new rules removed some restrictions on the operation of association health care plans, such as the ability to cross states lines, other limits remain. Groups can join together only if they are in the same industry; if not, small businesses still must be in the same state in order to join together. The remaining restrictions may inhibit the widespread adoption of the plans, Politico says, although NFIB is looking into workarounds such as offering insurance to small businesses at the state level.