In 2017, 28,000 Missourians who didn’t receive any tax credits to offset the cost of health insurance purchased through Healthcare.gov left the Affordable Care Act exchange, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. And, as the costs of premiums continue to rise—and once the federal government officially ends the individual insurance mandate in 2019—this number will only go higher.
However, one emerging option could help address the cost of health insurance, especially for small business owners. This option: association health plans (AHPs). These plans, which people will have more access to under a Trump administration rule, allow small businesses in associations to pool together to buy health insurance. Banding together as a larger group gives them access to the more affordable coverage that large employers can provide. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Sen. Roy Blunt wrote in a Roll Call op-ed, approximately 4 million Americans—including 400,000 who wouldn’t otherwise be insured—are expected to enroll in AHPs.
“The idea behind AHPs has a track record of success in Missouri,” Sen. Blunt wrote. “The Missouri Association of Manufacturers formed a plan similar to an AHP with 32 companies in 2006, allowing six of those companies to offer coverage to their employees for the first time. A second plan formed in 2010 brought premium costs down by 60 percent, according to the organization. At the end of last year, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce created an AHP and is already offering insurance to about 5,000 people.
“Expanding AHPs is a simple solution to a big problem. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of small employers offering health coverage dropped by 25 percent. At the same time, premiums on the Obamacare exchanges have skyrocketed. That’s especially challenging for sole proprietors, who make up about 85 percent of the 30 million small business owners in our country.”